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For the 2016 edition of the Dallas Art Fair, Leila Heller Gallery is pleased to present a solo booth of recent and new works by feminist artist, Rachel Lee Hovnanian. Born in Parkersburg, West Virginia and raised in Houston, Texas, Hovnanian is a New York-based artist who navigates the post- Internet world, merging photography, video, sculpture, painting and installation art into surreal environments that challenge viewers to examine and reevaluate their own cultural values and relationship with digital technology. Judith Stein described Hovnanian as “a wizard at fingering uncomfortable truths."
The works presented at the Dallas Art Fair explore the notions of narcissism, obsession and intimacy, and society’s alienating addiction to modern technological advances and media. The booth will feature works by Hovnanian in a range of mediums – from neon, to photography, and mixed media works that blur the lines between painting and sculpture. Exhibited for the first time will be
Hovnanian’s, ILYSFM neon – a nod to the Internet’s ever growing vocabulary, and specifically the acronymistic culture that has developed as a result of instant messaging, texting, and social networking services.
Also on view at the fair will be a new work from Hovnanian’s Cereal Box series, created specifically for the Dallas audience. Dallas Cowboys: Breakfast of Champions (2016), includes twelve Wheaties cereal boxes that commemorate important moments and key players of the Cowboys franchise. The recurring use of cereal in Hovnanian’s work is a reference to the 1960s and the “quick fix” of cereal as a healthy and time saving way to feed children. This work, along with, Breakfast of Champions: Totem (2016), and photographs from her Foreplay (2014) series, depict that, for better or worse, we continue to search for “instant gratification” in every aspect of our life.
Hovnanian provides a glimpse of what our culture’s obsession with technology may lead to in Perfect Baby Showroom, her acclaimed interactive installation. Located above the North Dallas Tollway, a large billboard reads "Genetically Perfect Children... Inconceivable?” enticing audiences to visit http://perfect-babies.com. The Perfect Baby Showroom challenges Dallasites to think about the impact of technology on intimacy, and in this case, convenience and perfection.
In Perfect Baby Showroom, the perfect human baby is available in a laboratory meets shopping mall where parents determine the lives and physical characteristics of their babies. Arrayed in formal configuration and displayed in neat stainless steel racks, Hovnanian’s hyper-realistic perfect babies are miracles of nature, yet they are also inventory; infants to be loved, yet products to be prized. Their heads rest on pillows filled with colorful genetically modified, sugary cereals puffed full of air. The viewer is crucial and constitutive to this work; without response there is no disruption, reflection or intersubjective commentary.
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