Raid the Icebox Now with Nicole Eisenman
This installation situates historical works from the RISD Museum’s collection within spaces configured to suggest a gay nightclub from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. The figures within paintings from past centuries find themselves a cultural context that they never would have occupied and that, presumably, is at odds with their values and worldviews. Developed out of a sense of play, this project conjectures what might happen if viewers perceived the individuals depicted in many of these works as queer. Some of the paintings form a queue, leaning along the walls as if waiting to enter the “club.” Other works are hung salon-style inside, their subjects’ gazes trained on new arrivals, enacting the performance of desire and expectation that charges nightclubs and similar social spaces and situations. As the music plays, the people in the paintings look us over as we examine and scrutinize them. They are all going out with us and getting hammered. Displaced in these new surroundings and situations, they also reveal themselves and their roles in making the world we live in today in a new and not altogether flattering light.
Nicole Eisenman lives and works in New York and received her BFA from RISD in 1987. Her work in painting, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture adapts traditional art-historical techniques and approaches to an often satirical depiction of contemporary society and its discontents. Eisenman’s practice is also defined by a commitment to representing the complex implications of the body as a site of desire and identity and to addressing issues of gender and sexuality.
Raid the Icebox Now is made possible by a lead grant from the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from Pace Gallery, Taylor Box Company, and a generous in-kind gift from Meyer Sound Laboratories. RISD Museum is supported by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and with the generous partnership of the Rhode Island School of Design, its Board of Trustees, and Museum Governors.