Harold Mendez’s exhibition but I sound better since you cut my throat is a meditation on two liminal characters who seek to transcend boundaries, borders, and the trappings of place – revealing the slippages between memory, fact, and fiction. Working from his 2010 publication Texts for Nothing, Mendez utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to sculpture, installation, photography, collaborative projects, drawing, and text, employing the strangeness of fiction, poetics, and politics, interwoven with personal meditations and memory fragments. Mendez’s Texts for Nothing refers to Samuel Beckett’s thirteen short prose pieces “Texts for Nothing” (1950-1952), which are a series of fractured dialogues, rhetorical questions and uncompleted narratives, representing Beckett’s turn from Modernism to Postmodernism. Mendez’s Texts for Nothing are a fictional conversation in the form of a tragicomedy. Two characters, Braille Teeth (from a painting by Jean- Michel Basquiat) and Nobody (from the film Dead Man by Jim Jarmusch), share a difficult journey across a landscape abstract and universal yet sharply particularized, speaking through a series of appropriated texts such as Jean-Paul Sartre, TV on the Radio, Deadwood, Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvior, Shadi Abdel Salam, Ralph Ellison, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, and other sources.
The show expands from this text to a combination of objects, images and installations in a varied use of media. In I’m not always fitting (After Koudelka), Mendez creates a large-scale hand-made negative with soot of a shrouded monument onto a glass tempered panel also known as Cliché- Verres, a French translation meaning glass picture. In other ethereal works such as If we bring our specters into the open, it may save us from disaster or but I sound better since you cut my throat utilizes pinhole photography to disclose issues of visibility and obscurity. Mendez also uses materials such as window screens and spray enamel over large-scale photographs in Become first facts toward which later a little town looks back to produce a “veiling” effect of a witnessed event.
Speaking to the many ways that individuality and identity is constructed, fragmented, abstracted and made unintelligible, Mendez creates a visual vocabulary grounded in varied literary and philosophical traditions including Postmodernist literature, contemporary poetry, and American fiction. but i sound better since you cut my throat is a line in a poem (Rock the Party, Fuck the Smackdown) by Fred Moten, author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, who will be contributing a new essay to Mendez’s exhibition publication and will speaking at threewalls on March 13, 2014 at 7 PM. The Chicago theater artist Dado will be directing a reading of Mendez Texts for Nothing, in conjunction with Harold Mendez’s artist talk April 10, 6:30 PM. Below is an audio recording of the talk.
Harold Mendez received his M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2007, B.A. from Columbia College in 2000 and studied at the University of Science and Technology, Ghana, West Africa in 1999. He is currently an Artist-In-Residence at the Core Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Mendez has participated in residencies at Ox-bow; Experimental Sound Studio; Headlands Center for the Arts; Lighthouse Works and Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. In 2008, he was featured in a 12 X 12: NEW ARTISTS / NEW WORK exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. He was awarded the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship in 2013 and the 3Arts award in 2012. His work has been exhibited at the Studio Museum Harlem; the Museum of Modern Art / PS1; the Renaissance Society and the Knoxville Museum of Art among others. Reviews of his work have appeared in the New York Times, Artforum and Frieze Magazine. His work is in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum, Harlem. Forthcoming projects include Towards the nature of light, a public commission with Franz Mayer of Munich – Architectural Glass for the Chicago Transit Authority; The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas; Headlands Center for the Arts, Artist-In-Residence / Alumni New Works; Phantoms in the Dirt, Museum of Contemporary Photography; Open Sessions, The Drawing Center, NYC; and he will be travelling to Medellin, Colombia to research national archives on La Violencia at the Biblioteca Publica Piloto, 2014.
This exhibition is partially supported by the Efroymson Family Fund.