ICA will be closed to the public through September 12 for installation.
Sep 7–Dec 16, 2007

Project Space: Jay Heikes

Jay Heikes, So There's This Pirate (still 1300), 2005, tempera, marker, and graphite on photocopy, 30 x 40 inches. Courtesy of the artist, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago.
About

Jay Heikes

Jay Heikes, So There’s This Pirate (still 1300), 2005, tempera, marker, and graphite on photocopy, 30 x 40 inches. Courtesy of the artist, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago.

For his first solo museum show, Jay Heikes will produce a unique installation on view September 7–December 16, 2007, in the Project Space, which may include the following elements: a cement and brass “bed of nails,” a digital cuckoo clock, a freezer wall, drawings, and a stylized rat trap. These elements are among the “props” used to activate stories, puns, and a kind of deadpan humor that have appeared in past iterations of an ongoing work inspired by a rather arcane joke.

For the past couple of years, Heikes has been telling a joke—the same joke—over and over. The joke is about an impatient pirate and a smart-alecky parrot: “So there’s this pirate…” it begins. Early in the process, Heikes performed the joke, videotaped it, and from there, employed an approach to transform the joke into a formal element in his drawings, sculpture, and installation work. Over time, the joke has become a generative device, distilled in its visual components, which in turn have become Heikes’s aesthetic language. The artist says: “By telling the same joke over and over, I’ve realized its rigid structure allows me to find totally new directions every time I make this delivery—like splats and circles that relate to the art movements such as Pop Art and Expressionism. Eventually I imagine the narrative of the joke to be totally irrelevant and the stills to exist as a kind of green screen—a forum where any abstraction of the narrative exists as a collage within it.” At ICA, he will present what is the eighth retelling of the joke, now bordering on complete independence from the original narrative.
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ICA is grateful for funding provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Dietrich Foundation, Inc., the Overseers Board for the Institute of Contemporary Art, friends and members of ICA, and the University of Pennsylvania. ICA is also grateful for inkind support from Loews Philadelphia Hotel.