press release

Marianne Boesky Gallery is pleased to announce John Waters: Unwatchable, the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, from April 21 – May 20, 2006. The exhibition will be presented simultaneously at de Pury & Luxembourg, Zurich, from April 8 – May 20, 2006.

“The word “unwatchable” is the ultimate insult in film criticism. But when “unwatchable” movie images are kidnapped off of the screen, isolated out of context, edited together with phony credits and hung on the wall to form new low-concept narratives, these hostage film stills can no longer be “watched,” they must be “seen.” Suddenly, going to the movies can never be a disappointment.”

Waters’s quote wonderfully illustrates his working method in the “fine” art medium of photography over the past 15 years. He attempts to translate the experience of watching a movie, even a bad one, into seeing a selective new high-concept version that may have nothing to do with the original film. Featured in the exhibition will be over 45 new photographic works. Each of the pieces tells a new story, frame by frame, until the original source material has been transformed into the John Waters “re-make.” The art world, celebrity miscreants, politicians and Waters himself are not spared from his satirical directorial glare in the these incisive new cinematic story boards.

Unwatchable will also feature seven new sculptural/installation works. They range from Slimy JW, a six foot casting of a joke shop rubber snake reincarnated as Waters himself to Sound of a Hit, the actual aural recording of money changing hands inside the boxoffice during opening day of a Hollywood blockbuster hit. Playdate, a pair of frighteningly life-size toddlers who happen to be Charles Manson and Michael Jackson, rudely try to connect on the gallery floor. Again, in Waters own words:

“Two famous media villains, Charles Manson and Michael Jackson, reborn as perfect babies – could they have saved each other if they had met on a childhood play date before their lives went wrong?”

“From the bad real estate of the director’s chair,” Waters hopes to translate his insider show-biz knowledge into an “artistically incorrect” celebration of the ludicrous and wonderful extremes in both the film and art world he so loves.

John Waters was born in 1946 in Baltimore. In 2004, his exhibition John Waters: Change of Life premiered at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York and traveled to the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; The Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; and The Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA. He has had numerous exhibition in the United States and abroad and can currently be seen in Situation Comedy: Humor in Recent Art, at the Chicago Cultural Center through April 9, 2006.

A fully-illustrated 96-page catalogue with an essay by Brenda Richardson will be published in conjunction with the exhibition.


John Waters: Unwatchable