Saturday, January 30
Conversation with the artists: 6:30-7:30pm
Opening receptions: 7:30-9:30pm

Bryan Zanisnik: Philip Roth Presidential Library
Toby Barnes: Body Electric

Locust Projects is proud to present Bryan Zanisnik’s installation Philip Roth Presidential Library. In the spring of 2012, Zanisnik was served with a cease and desist letter by attorneys acting for the American author Philip Roth. The document stated that the artist was violating the copyright of Roth’s book The Great American Novel, by holding the publication during a performance at the Abrons Arts Center in New York City. The incident received extensive press coverage, and has garnered mentions of Zanisnik in scholarly publications and academic journals focused on the celebrated author. After much back and forth between Zanisnik’s copyright attorney and Roth’s lawyers, the matter was dropped.

Zanisnik utilized Roth’s novel in his 2012 performance because he felt an affinity with the author and his writing. Both men are from New Jersey; explore ideas of masculinity, Americana, and family in their work; and have an abject sense of humor. While Zanisnik initially intended to limit his reference to Roth to this performance, the resulting legal action tied the author more deeply into the artist’s practice, and he has since made Roth-inspired photographs, textiles, and comics.

The installation at Locust Projects acts as both an aesthetic exploration of a disordered library and as a real functioning space – a place where people congregate and read Roth’s novels and related works. Visitors first encounter a domestic-type setting, featuring a comfortable sofa, framed photographs and ephemera, and a scrapbook of materials exploring Zanisnik’s history with Roth. A 3D-printed bust of Roth encourages visitors to move into the larger space, which is populated by ten thirteen-foot-high sculptures, that double as bookshelves for hundreds of novels and other publications that reference Roth’s life and work . Some of the spaces for books, which appear to have been violently made through the drywall, are covered with vintage mid-twentieth-century patterned wallpaper.

Born in New Jersey, Bryan Zanisnik live and works in Queens, New York. He has exhibited extensively, both nationally and internationally, including at MoMA PS1, Long Island City; Sculpture Center, Long Island City; Brooklyn Museum, New York; LAXART, Los Angeles; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; and the Museum of Contemporary Photograph, Chicago. Zanisnik studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and received his MFA from Hunter College in 2009. He and his work have been featured on ART21 and Philip Roth Presidential Library at Locust Projects will form part of an upcoming episode of the program.

Locust Projects is pleased to present Body Electric, a site-specific exhibition of new work by Thai-American artist Toby Barnes. Born in Miami, Body Electric will be Barnes’ first exhibition in the city.

Building on his existing work that synthesizes Asian and Western iconography, and explores the sacred in the everyday, Barnes uses photography, painting and installation to transform the Project Room into a brightly-colored DIY home gym, including a soundtrack of an anonymous gym-goer working out.

Making use of Locust Projects’ roll-up garage door as a nod to a common location for home gyms, the artist has created a number of weightlifting stations designed to exercise different muscle groups. Body Electric’s homemade weights, simply constructed from cement and pipes, reference Barnes’ experience as a teenager in North Miami, where he and his friends would fashion weights from everyday materials and found objects. Each station will also be accompanied by a colorful large-scale painting, created by applying paint over a printed canvas featuring digital photographic imagery, so that each weight machine acts as both a piece of exercise equipment and personal altar. The transformation of these rudimentary exercise machines into altars relates to the artist’s interest in the aesthetic of Asian altars, which are constructed by individuals as a focus for daily religious rituals within the home. The exhibition encourages us to consider contemporary culture’s fixation on the “body as temple” and to explore the body as a site of worship and adoration, while also providing us with a site from which the body can be refined and remade.

Born in Miami, Thai-American artist Toby Barnes is based in Amherst, Massachusetts. He received his MFA from the University of Michigan School of Arts and Design in 1999, and a BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Arts in 1997. Barnes has had solo exhibitions at Yellow Peril Gallery, Providence, RI; A.P.E. Gallery, Northampton, MA; and Time and Space Gallery, Bangalore, India. His work has been included in national and international group exhibitions in New York City; San Francisco; Long Island City, NY; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Bangalore, India. Barnes is represented by Yellow Peril Gallery in Providence.