Jeanne Randolph: My Claustrophobic Happiness
October 20, 2017 to February 4, 2018

My Claustrophobic Happiness is an exhibition that will extend art writer Dr. Jeanne Randolph’s interpretation of North American consumer culture into a Freudian hallucinogenic realm. Randolph has created an exhibition incorporating creative and critical writing—called “ficto-criticism”—inspired by, and alongside, works from the MacKenzie Art Gallery permanent collection. The exhibition disembarks from a text written by Randolph during a one-month residency at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in the summer of 2017: a 21st century version of The Temptations of St. Anthony (Athanasius, 4th c. CE).

In 1879 Gustave Flaubert had written his version of The Temptations of St. Anthony, illustrated by James Ensor. For hundreds of years artists have depicted scenes from Athanasius’s The Temptations of St. Anthony, among them Hieronymus Bosch, Matthias Grünewald, Félicien Rops, Martin Schongauer and Salvador Dali. Their works are voluptuous, grand and complex. In Randolph’s version, instead of a Christian desert hermit beset by the Devil in a myriad of hideous disguises, the central character will be the irredeemable consumer beset by artists, philosophers, activists, poets, musicians, Zen Buddhists, architects and others.

Sixteen artworks, selected by Randolph from the MacKenzie’s permanent collection, will be accompanied by written passages composed by Randolph telling the story of the central character—an inveterate consumer ensconced in a Vancouver condo tower. The exhibition features the work of a range of artists including Andy Warhol, Jan Wyers, Wilf Perreault, 17th century Dutch painter Frans Van Mieris, Evergon, and the unattributed creator of a terracotta figurine from the ancient Near East.

Randolph’s texts—presented to the public for the first time—will accompany the original works in the Gallery, providing unique insights into the generative power of art, the relationships between art and text, artist and writer, and viewer and art objects.

About the Collection Insight Series
The Collection Insight Series is designed to offer new takes on the MacKenzie’s permanent collection through exhibitions and artist interventions. The series draws on the myriad stories connected to the nearly 5,000 works held by the gallery. Artists and arts specialists have been invited to mine the collection and design exhibitions that challenge assumptions and open new contexts for understanding.

About Jeanne Randolph
Dr. Jeanne Randolph is a Canadian artist, psychiatrist, and cultural theorist. She is recognized internationally for her creation of the form ficto-criticisim in the early 1980s. Randolph's work transforms how art criticism is supposed to look or operate. Internationally renowned for her text-based work as critic, theorist, and practicing psychoanalyst, Randolph is also a performance artist, artist-collaborator, and cultural catalyst.

Image: Stan Denniston and Jeanne Randolph, Jeanne Randolph, 1992, laminated Cibachrome, silkscreened text on wood and plexiglass frame, fridge magnets, edition of 3, 127 x 142.2 cm, Private Collection, Photo: Don Hall.