Artforum: Karyn Olivier: Everything That’s Alive Moves

Karyn Olivier: Everything That’s Alive Moves
By C.C. McKee for Artforum
May 4, 2020

Karyn Olivier’s exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art is introduced by a poignant contestation of the monument’s expected forms and subjects: Attendants at the threshold of the gallery invite viewers to take a simple red carnation and a pearl-topped lapel pin. Olivier’s wall text indicates that she is distributing carnations as a tribute to mothers, conceived in response to multiple historical events.

First was the Philadelphian Anna Jarvis’s campaign for a national Mother’s Day in 1905; by 1908, the carnation was associated with the celebration, federally recognized in 1914. Later was an incident that more tragically linked the holiday to this city: the infamous 1985 police bombing (which unfolded just after Mother’s Day) of the communal row house owned by the black liberation group MOVE. Six adults and five children died; at least sixty houses in the neighborhood were destroyed. At the show, the carnations, with their intimate and mobile relationship to the body, invert monumentality’s presumed scale and fixity.

Read the full article…