VIRGINIA LEE MONTGOMERY | SOS ONSHORE OFFSHORE
Sept 16 - Oct 31
OPENING SEPTEMBER 16, 7-10 PM
SOS signifies distress. In the exhibition SOS ONSHORE OFFSHORE, the refrain "S-O-S" is sung by animated Sea Ponies™ offering help to those who are lost. The letters are not an acronym. They form the action as the alphabetical symbols associated with the Morse code “…,———,…” rendered short short short, long long long, short short short either sonically or visually. This signal of distress was adopted globally in the 20th century by trade, military and civilian vessels as a form that could be legible across language and culture.
To film the video pieces in SOS ONSHORE OFFSHORE, Montgomery traveled to the tax shelters of the Cayman Islands and Grenada, the marble memorials of Washington DC, the domestic US tax shelter of Wilmington, Delaware, the Kinnear Centre for Creativity and Innovation in Banff, Canada, and the premier North American marble quarry of Barre, Vermont. The exhibition includes the artist’s collection of Lincoln 1 cent mint-error coins and folded Memory Foam mattresses weighed down by penny rolls and eroded marble. A few windows have been tinted blue with transparent film.
Globalism has many origin stories. Montgomery’s work braids together a feminist material narrative of ponytails, copper, marble, foam, and plastic toy sea ponies that travel great, liquid distances. Her props are ordinary but through clandestine activation reveal an intersectional account of emotive, economic, and ecologic costuming.
SOS ONSHORE OFFSHORE suggests a metaphysical paradox. As global capital increases, its physical trace seems to decrease. But we can, as Montgomery has, still physically visit a tax shelter or see the notorious Ugland House from the road. It is a humble office building in which 18,857 individual international corporate entities claim working residence in the Cayman Islands. The tides are rising.
Virginia Lee Montgomery received her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2016 and her BFA from The University of Texas at Austin in 2008. Between her BFA and MFA she worked performatively in corporate creative consulting illustrating agendas that proselytize creative commodity and innovation standards, both onshore and offshore. Her contemporary movements and their documentation empathetically map and physically channel the metaphysics of dematerialized capital.