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Hook Announces Desire/Aspiration/Love/Rejection Curated by William J. Simmons

June 14, 2021

Hook is pleased to present Desire/Aspiration/Love/Rejection, a group exhibition curated byWilliam J. Simmons, writer, curator, and author of Queer Formalism: The Return. The exhibition is part of the Bay Area-based online venue’s program Hook Selects, which brings together exhibitions featuring artists from around the country to explore timely themes, ideas, and social undercurrents.

Desire/Aspiration/Love/Rejection features nineteen artists, both emerging and established, working in diverse media, including: Allora & Calzadilla, Tina Barney, Math Bass, Guy Bourdin(selected by Laurie Simmons), James Casebere, Will Cotton, Gregory Crewdson, Roe Ethridge, Sylvie Fleury, Eve Fowler, Deborah Kass, Tania Franco Klein, Sally Mann, Annette Messager, Marilyn Minter, Alex Prager, Anri Sala, David Benjamin Sherry, and Laurie Simmons.

The exhibition brings together a series of artworks that meditate on a wide range of emotions with equal gravitas - from wonder and sincerity to desire and envy, alongside the more paranoid impulses that often plague artists, curators, and art lovers alike - those of deconstruction and critique. For Simmons, the exhibition represents a manifestation of his own journey studying art and art history, developing his own theorizations of queerness and feminism, and coming to terms with his relationship to art. In selecting these works, he rejects the idea of a hierarchy or exceptionalism, acknowledging instead that the practice of curation is inherently intimate and deeply personal. “The balance then is realizing that everything, including history, is a chimera of one’s own individual desires, fears, lusts, etc.,” Simmons writes of the show, “even as we allow the objects of our desire, despair, aspiration, and repulsion to echo infinitely with our blessing.”

Similarly, the art on view reflects these artists interior musings, with works that mine their subconscious landscapes. Among the works included is Laurie Simmons “Cowboy,” a vivid photographic work that continues Simmons interest in using classic American motifs to create layered narratives that suggest a more complex and often darker story than the initial subject matter suggests. Meanwhile, Marilyn Minters “I C Gaga,” also draws on the photographic medium to undermine traditional conceptions of beauty and glamour. Her dye sublimation print of Lady Gaga included in the show uses her technique of capturing her subject through a pane of wet glass to create a more nuanced and seductive portrait of the pop star.

Other artists, like David Benjamin Sherry, use their media of choice rather than their subject matter to explore the emotions they are trying to untangle. With “Joshua Tree,” Sherry allows the drama of color itself, which he manipulates through a complicated darkroom process, to express the mood of his work and to explore the landscape of the American West. Gregory Crewdson, too, uses the photographic process to stage elaborate, cinematic scenes with carefully placed lighting to create disturbing visions of American life. “Funerary Back Lot” features two female figures caught in an eerie and seemingly poverty-stricken landscape, offering up more questions than answers and leaving the viewer unnerved and uncertain. Meanwhile, Eve Fowler will exhibit a set of texts-based prints, many of which mimic those of billboard to explore queerness, gender identity, and social issues.

The nineteen artists on view present an eclectic and diverse set of works that move beyond the typical binaries associated with an exploration of emotion (good-bad, deconstructive-complicit, intellectual-emotional, present-past) to create more nuanced reflections on contemporary life.Together the works offer viewers a striking and complicated portrait of American society.

About Hook

Hook is an online venue that brings together seasoned art collectors with established galleries to create a marketplace for viewing, buying, selling, and learning about art. Hook brings sophisticated collectors curated programming throughout the year, offering the variety of an art fair and the quality of a gallery exhibition from the comfort of their own home. In addition, Hook allows for a seamless transition to live communication in real time between artists, galleries and collectors through a video chat service that is integrated into the experience.

About William J. Simmons

William J. Simmons has degrees in art history and gender studies from Harvard and theUniversity of Southern California. He is based in Los Angeles and New York. His first bookQueer Formalism: The Return was published by Floating Opera Press and is on its second printing. He is a contributing editor at Flash Art, and he was the Curator of Special Projects for the 2020 Felix Fair in Los Angeles. IG/Twitter: WJ_Simmons

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