Cody Critcheloe, aka Ssion, has a totalizing vision that includes music, fashion, video, drawings, make-up—everything that partakes or at least alludes to sub-culture. I encountered his work at Peres Projects Los Angeles when I walked into his first solo exhibit BOY to snatches of glowing objects, black lights, and TVs. There were mounds of Pepsi cans, eerie drawings, hordes of fashionable spectators come to see it all, and then an epic movie with the look of John Water's Desperate Living, chronicling the rise of a swaggering music hero to pop stardom. The movie is a radiant roman à clef that prompts viewers to consider the terms of success and the context of the Ssion saga itself. It wasn't fine art, which Critcheloe admits to never thinking about, but showbiz, and the kind of utopic midwestern nostalgia for fame that exempts no art school student. BOY opens at Peres Projects Berlin on June 26. Later this year he'll perform at The Hole, a new space in Soho run by former directors at Deith Projects.
JON LEON: How did the Ssion we know of today evolve?
CODY CRITCHELOE: SSION began as a punk band that I started as a teenager in Kentucky. It was me and the three coolest punk/goth chicks in town. We made tapes, zines, and over-the-top performances to accompany the music I was making. I was obsessive about creating a scene or some kind of myth back then, which is the same thing I'm doing now but with more focus, and on a broader scale. After going to art school (with hopes of starting a real band) I found myself in a similar situation of spearheading a collective of friends that could help me perform the songs I was making.
Ben Gocker is a New York-based artist whose exuberant drawings, paintings, sculptures, book objects, and other mixed-media works go on view next week in his first solo show at PPOW Gallery. Gocker, a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library, curates a reading series of poetry called Poetry Time, inviting top-shelf authors to present their work in an intimate and interactive setting in a house at the border of Ridgewood, Queens and Bushwick in Brooklyn. His visual work often questions the precarious boundary where poetry alights from the page and becomes a full-blown lifestyle, an open way of moving through the world, where the graceful fold of a saddle-stitched book remains a remarkable technology.
2012, aluminum, wood, sublimation print on polyester and concrete, 71 3/4 by 122 1/2 by 135 inches overall. Courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New Yor