Nick van Woert Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In
Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In is Nick van Woert’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. Named after Kenny Rogers’ hit song about a psychedelic experience, van Woert adopts this title to reference the subtext of previous work; work centered around artificial substance and an intoxicated landscape. Beyond hinting at altered states, the title refers to his new works, which assess the human condition from an observant, sober vantage. His exhibition proposes that history is a repeat, and adaptation is a synonym for assimilation.
With this quote in mind, van Woert considered the roots of American civilization: “When the white man came he had the bible and we had the land. They gave us the bible and told us to close our eyes and pray. When we opened our eyes we had the bible and they had the land.” Appropriating cigar store Indian figures, the artist carved historic white faces over the existing Native American caricature visages – murderous faces, such as Andrew Jackson and Buffalo Bill, graft the decorative stereotype. This series of wooden sculptures are a group hallucination, a collective nightmare of assimilation.
In 1985, the police department bombed a Philadelphia row house, killing 11 people after forced evacuation attempts proved unsuccessful. The building was occupied by MOVE, a communal black liberation group that advocated for a more natural austere lifestyle, who authorities had characterized as a terrorist organization. Van Woert recreated the home in meticulous detail, at a smaller scale. When viewing the piece, our perspective is of the helicopter that dropped the explosives. It is death from above – an executioner’s gaze at a piece of resurrected, now zombie architecture.
Van Woert also made a vinyl record, which will play during the exhibition. In 1993, the FBI inadvertently created a soundtrack during the 51-day standoff in Waco, Texas, with David Koresh and the Branch Dividians. During the conflict, the FBI blasted songs and noises around the compound in an attempt to torture the inhabitants. The music acted, in some cases, as a visceral annoyance and in others as a subliminal message. This is a collection of those songs and sounds.
DatesSeptember 12 - October 10, 2015
Opening ReceptionSaturday, September 12, 6-8pm
Location937 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Nick van Woert
All images: Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In, 2015. Photography courtesy of Morán Morán