Exhibition Review: Jaimie Warren at The Hole
One Sweet Day
July 26th – September 3rd, 2017
Opening: Wednesday, July 26th from 6–9pm
Performance: Thursday, August 17th 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm
All images © The Hole Gallery
Written by Liz Von Klemperer
Jaimie Warren, also known as Cindy Sherman of the Midwest for her intricate costuming and staged self-portraiture, has a new show up at The Hole. One Sweet Day is an immersive experience featuring four video projects, as well as a fifth video installation. These playful, absurdist works include music video style pieces such as I Got My Mind Set On You: Self-Portrait as George Harrison in recreation of Ancient Egyptian Papyrus painting of Ma’at and Isis, and I Just Called to Say I Love You: Self-portrait as Stevie Wonder in recreation of Primavera by Sandro Botticelli, to name a few. These productions are elaborate and boast a huge cast. There are, for example, over 90 people credited in the Michael Jackson work. The show is marked by Warren’s classic wacky, absurdist humor that refuses to enter into mainstream gallery culture. Instead, Warren casts kids from classrooms and local community members in her video tableaus.
One Sweet Day welcomes viewers in with its fun and playful atmosphere. Play is a key aspect of the exhibit, and moving through the space Warren has constructed was a treat. Warren literally puts viewers inside the story she’s constructed, as the installations act as a backdrop for her fifth video. What ensues is the giddy joy of an amusement park mixed with disturbing undertones.
Beyond the first four video installations is a paper mache cave, which plays the first part of the fifth video on a loop. The narrative of the film draws from formulaic, cheesy kids adventure shows. Viewers sit on a faux rock to watch a video in which a group of kids get stuck in a cave and have to work together to find their way out. Upon exiting the cave viewers are greeted with life size sculptures of Warren’s characters, as well as Michael Jackson lodged in a coffin. The sit com style video is culminated in this second gallery space, and culminates in a sing along with dead celebrities such as Amy Winehose, Frida Kahlo, and more.
“We have invented our own sense of humor that we can't tell if it's funny or not, or if it just makes no sense at all,” Warren told Interview Magazine. This philosophy translates to her ongoing project Whoop Dee Doo, a collaboration with artist Matt Roche. Whoop Dee Doo is a mock public access TV show that also includes kids from community groups such as The Boys and Girls Club. “We hope that Whoop Dee Doo can occupy a position that is highly respected as both community art and contemporary art,” Warren told Rhizome. Although Warren says that this effect is difficult to achieve, it is necessary, as it makes for a more egalitarian form of art in which the divisions between high and low art are blurred.
I really enjoyed the exhibit, and recommend it! Warren will be hosting a gallery performance on August 17, and the complete installation will be on view until September 3.