September 24 – October 31, 2015
The artist everyone is looking to, Puppies Puppies, is said to have risen up out of blasé faire one-year-post-MFA art speak and is now seriously valued by seemingly everyone around. If you’re paying attention, you’re also probably google-searching "puppies puppies", LOLing at the image feedback, and showing your friends.
I encourage everyone to read Puppies Puppies' recent press release for his solo exhibition at Vilma Gold in London. In this first person narrative, Puppies Puppies describes “running from” a brain tumor since ‘09 and living each moment conscious of his promised impending death. Puppies Puppies writes,
“This show is a marker of transition, in my life as well as my artistic practice. It feels silly to even make the distinction. Recently (August 2015) I found out that the brain tumor I have been running from since 2009 (surgically removed in 2010) is finally confirmed to be
(for the time being)”
As Puppies Puppies adjusts to having more time to live, the exhibition at Vilma Gold comments on the United States’ indulgent consumption of toxins, specifically US citizens poisoning themselves with high fructose corn syrup, displays a mascot suit of the snowman from popular movie Frozen, and in a piece called Baggage (Carry On) a human skull and crossbones lays in in open carry on suitcase between layers of clothing. The artist presumably sported this bag through airport security.
While the show continues in London, the prolific Puppies Puppies opened Gollum, a solo exhibition at Queer Thoughts, a gallery from Chicago that recently moved to Soho in New York.
Entering Queer Thoughts for the Puppies Puppies opening was the most welcoming experience I have ever experienced at an artspace. QT is tiny so everyone stands outside of the gallery in the hallway in the building on Broadway. It seemed as though both gallery directors, Luis Miguel Bendaña and Sam Lipp were individually greeting each guest, introducing themselves, welcoming both strangers and friends. Shocked by the pleasantness, I watched visitors be invited into the gallery through a closed door which shut behind them. In the space, all walls were painted black, visibility was minimal and the sound of trickling water (Puppies Puppies, Dripping, 2015) seem to echo off stone walls. Through a hazy glimmer of blue light, visitors silently question what is standing atop the pedestal-esque boulder centered in the space. The dim lighting, costuming, and smoke filling the room cause an enigma as to whether or not what is standing on the boulder was human. Puppies Puppies was dressed identically to Gollum, a fictional creature, a Stoor Hobbit from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. Originally introduced in 1937, Gollum was corrupted by The One Ring. The press release for this exhibition was written by Puppies Puppies’ fiancé, Forrest, who connects his engagement ring to The One Ring.
Puppies Puppies moved about the boulder holding up a dead fish in Gollum Performance, a work first performed in 2014. In the back room, a there is a shop-sink running water, a Snapple bottle containing piss from Luis Miguel Bendaña and Sam Lipp, lit candles, and three paintings depicting the movie character: Smeagol with Ring (2015), Gollum with Rabbit (2015), and Gollum (2015).
A large vinyl photograph sticks to the wall behind the lit candle. Nude Gollum In Candlelight (2015) displays Puppies Puppies dressed as a nude Gollum posed in a crawling position on a large rock in the woods. The lit candle and title of the work alludes to a romantic identity of the creature and connects back to Forrest’s press release.