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LYDIA MCCARTHY 

Deep Cutz: Future Past Self
October 12-November 10, 2019 
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 12, 6-8PM


Inventing can be understood in three different senses:
Imagining; imagining to the point of “creating”, as they say.-Then, contriving [controuver], that is, exploiting in the imagination, overcreating; in short, lying with ingenuity, if not genius. The Littré dictionary says that controuver is incorrectly but nonetheless commonly used to mean contradicting. -Finally, inventing is finding or falling right on the shock of the thing, the “thing itself”; invenire, coming to it, and perhaps unveiling it. [1]

Hysteria is a fiction, created in the 19th-century by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot in tandem with the invention of photography, exemplifying a deep fear of female sexuality and reinforcing the belief that photography can be used as scientific evidence. These ideas are written into western cultural history, permeating how we image women and emotions. Women are taught that in order to be successful, we should not emote. For decades, I have worked tirelessly to be an even, thoughtful and emotionally evolved woman, in order to be respected as an artist, a professor, a friend and a partner. Fuck that. I want to be a boss-ass bitch. I want to surrender to full, messy experience. I want more life.

In Deep Cutz each video and photograph is a re-preformed reality of heartbreak - I really cry, I am in pain, the words out of my mouth are words I have said a thousand times, the passages I am reading are from books I own. At the same time, I am some distant version of myself, acting out narratives that are overwrought and tired.

This work is a desire for agency and voice, a way to say all the things that I think I should not say as an adult woman and will never say directly. It is cliché and sincere and personal and obsessively self-reflexive and self-absorbed. It is a revelation and acceptance of my full, complicated emotional scale. This is my homage to the women who I watch, who I secretly identify with, on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, on The Real Housewives (of Beverly Hills, of Orange County, of New York), on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I use these tropes that I am so familiar with to give myself permission to feel all of my feelings, without judgment. I have allowed myself to go to the extreme, to write and rewrite the events. This is as authentically me as I have been and yet resembles nothing like me. This woman is simultaneously on the verge of a nervous breakdown and wryly self-aware – hanging on, but barely.
--
Lydia McCarthy's work has been exhibited at 106 Green, Essex Flowers, Sardine and the Scandinavia House in New York, NAU Gallery in Stockholm and at the MECA Art Fair in San Juan. She has been reviewed and published in The New Yorker, Art F City, The Wall Street Journal, Dossier and the Huffington Post. Lydia received a yearlong American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship and has held residencies at the Banff Centre and the Vermont Studio Center. Her book Vision 5: The Vibratory Waves of External Unitywas released with Silent Face Projects at the New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 in 2017. Lydia is an Associate Professor of Photography in the School of Art and Design at Alfred University.



[1] Hartz, Alisa, Translator. Invention of Hysteria: Charcot and the Photographic Iconography of Salpêtrière. By George Didi-Huberman, The MIT Press, 2003.

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