December 12, 2009 – January 16, 2010
Opening reception: Saturday, December 12, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Hamiltonian Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibition of works by Washington, DC photographer Frank Hallam Day, and Hamiltonian Fellow, Jonathan Monaghan. Whether through African mannequins, Christian imagery or heraldic symbolism, both artists present recontextualized notions of the West.
In Frank Day’s Equatorial Beauties, a series of photographs from a more extensive body of work taken in sub-Saharan Africa, the viewer comes face-to-face with images of women’s fashion mannequins from African marketplaces. Each mannequin dons tattered wigs, outdated make-up and ill-fitting clothes, but the focus here is on their eerie, damaged faces, chipped noses and eyes that gaze out beyond the viewer. These all-Caucasian mannequins represent the remnants of Western standards of beauty, and by extension, Colonialism itself, all of which still very much affect Africa today.
In his latest body of work titled Rock Hard Weekend, Hamiltonian Fellow Jonathan Monaghan further explores the Christian notion of self-sacrifice with his computer-animated videos and images. Monaghan’s works, opulent in their use of slick, laser-cut acrylic frames and symbols of designer luxury, offer an updated, almost post-human version of biblical allegories and the survival of their lessons.
In Pelican, a fabricated red bird, with a head reminiscent of a quilted Moncler ski jacket and a beak tattooed in the Ferrari horse symbol, sits amongst Catholic architecture and sumptuous red carpets, as it feeds its baby chicks through visceral, venous tubes. Pelican’s symbolism is sourced directly from the Bible, which tells the story of the pelican who tore her own breast to nourish her young when there was no food to be found. Monaghan's frequently used birds become stand-ins for Christ, and offer a stark counter to the indulgent decadence that surrounds them.