In her short story “Save Me from the Pious and the Vengeful” from the collection Someday This Will Be Funny, Lynne Tillman writes:
I don’t believe any response, like invention, is sad. The world is made up of imagining. I imagine this, too. Things circle, all is flutter. Things fall down and rise up. Hope and remorse, beauty and viciousness, and imagination, wherever it doggedly hides, unveil petulant realities. I live in my mind, and I don’t. There’s scant privacy for bitterness or farting or the inexpressible; historically, there was an illusion of privacy. Illusions are necessary. The wretched inherit what no one wants.
In this exhibition, Aidan Koch, Josh Mannis, and Bobbi Woods take up this notion of inheritance—what we take with us when the present is no longer present—within the frame of the comic, both as a form and as an emotional template for understanding the imagined lives of others, which all three artists find not quite sad, not quite funny, but somewhere in between, where privacy is scant and illusions are necessary. All three artists challenge the comic imagination by putting off the joke till later so that what’s seen—bodies contorted in psychosexual, violent chaos, as in the case of Josh Mannis’ drawings; cinema posters, erased and painted over, like in Bobbi Woods’ work; or figures quieted within a non-narrative framework that borrows on the comic book form, as in Aidan Koch’s large, framed drawings—obtains a pre-punchline intensity. Or it’s the moment before a joke’s even begun, and whatever plot there was has gotten a bit lost, which is itself kind of funny. Sometimes it’s not funny at all. Things circle, all is flutter.
AIDAN KOCH is a multimedia artist working in New York City. She has released several graphic novels, including Xeric Award-winner The Blonde Woman and Impressions. Her work has also been featured in The Paris Review. Her sculpture and installation work has been exhibited in Antwerp, Paris, Austin, and New York.
JOSH MANNIS was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1976. He received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Fiber and Materials Studies in 2005. His practice covers a range of media, all brought together by a preoccupation with figuration, sociality, work, and an ethics of presentation. Recent solo, two-person, and group exhibitions include Thomas Solomon Gallery (Los Angeles), Know More Games (Brooklyn), Retrospective (Hudson), and Team Gallery (New York).
BOBBI WOODS was born in St. Louis, Missouri. She earned a BFA and an MFA from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, in 2004 and 2008, and studied at Staedelschule, Frankfurt/Main, Germany. In 2015, Woods participated in The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project presented by LAND (Tucson, AZ), as well as in a two-person exhibition with Brian Kennon at Fourteen30 Contemporary (Portland, OR.) Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently at Pepin Moore, Los Angeles; Loudhailer Gallery, Los Angeles; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; Infernoesque, Berlin; Derek Eller, New York; Nathalie Karg Gallery, New York; White Columns, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice, France. The artist’s work has recently been featured in Artforum, Smithsonian Magazine, ZOO Magazine, Corner Magazine, and New York Observer. Bobbi Woods lives in Portland, OR and Los Angeles, CA.