OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY APRIL 8, 6-8PM
James Cohan is pleased to announce the opening of an exhibition by The Propeller Group, running from April 8 through May 15 at the gallery’s Lower East Side location. The exhibition presents the New York premier of The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music, a film work originally created for Prospect.3 New Orleans biennial in 2014. Also on view is AK-47 vs. M16, made in collaboration with Grand Arts, Kansas City and presented at Venice Biennale in 2015. This is the artist collective’s first exhibition at James Cohan.
Founded in 2006, The Propeller Group (TPG) is a collaboration between three multi-disciplinary artists based in Ho Chi Minh City and Los Angeles; Phunam, Matt Lucero and Tuan Andrew Nguyen. Their multimedia works use the languages of advertising and politics to initiate conversations about power, propaganda and manipulation, especially as they relate to fallen Communist dictatorships and the rapid rise of capitalism in Vietnam and beyond. TPG became well-known for their 2011 advertising parody Television Commercial For Communism, included in the New Museum’s Ungovernables 2012 Triennial exhibition. Consistently, their work crosses traditional lines between art and mainstream media. They explain, “We like to play. We align ourselves with different cultural producers. We like to let ourselves get ingested into the bellies of big social beasts such as television, advertising, or the various manifestations of pop-culture.”
Among the most notable works included in Prospect.3 New Orleans, The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music (2014) borrows its title from a Vietnamese Buddhist proverb, which calls for the playing of celebratory music for the dead. The film, shown in the main gallery, follows several funeral processions led by brass musicians and a cast of surreal characters including spiritual mediums, professional criers and street performers that turn the mourning ceremonies into euphoric rites of passage. Tapping into the similarity between funeral processions in Vietnam and New Orleans—they are both led by brass bands, TPG explores, “the elusive butterfly effect—the theory of ‘non-locality,’ whereby two distinct phenomena affect each other across a vast expanse of space and time.”