Bring It On! is a multi-media group exhibition exploring the all-American phenomenon of cheerleading – a tradition which has become somewhat of a pop culture obsession, featured in films like Bring it On and the reality TV show Cheer Nation. “Either you were a cheerleader or wanted to be one” is an often cited phrase summing up this conflicted team sport. “Cheerleader” equals popular, perky, and pretty, however it also equals type-A overachiever and cut-throat competitor.
From sporty to campy to sexy to downright pathetic, the artwork in Bring it On! investigates the boundaries of and associations with cheerleading. Brock Enright explores the sinister side of the cheerleader and the jock saga in his video and installation, while Brian Finke exposes the “hyper-real” moments of competitive cheerleaders through photography. Luis Gispert uses humor in his photos and videos of “hip-hop” cheerleaders to touch on more socio-political issues, while Cassandra C. Jones objectifies the cheerleader as a seemingly decorative yet pornographic figure via wallpaper. The collaborative group New Catalogue rounds out the show with a series of photos cheering themselves on with a squad of slacker cheerleaders. The opening night will feature performanes by the Chicago Spirit Brigade unified by their love of cheerleading and desire to promote H.I.V. and Aids awareness.
Brock Enright (American, b. 1976) received his MFA from Columbia University and currently lives and works in New York. The video and assemblage sculptures included here are part of his collaborative project “FOREST” with Ivan Hürzeler exhibited at Cynthia Broan Gallery NY earlier this year. In 2005, Enright and Hürzeler organized a camping expedition that involved taking a group of artists, actors and friends on a five-day camping trip/performance centered on a cheerleading theme. Enright’s work, derived from this trip, hints at the hormone-effected youth that are cheerleaders and athletes. The feature-length film documenting the trip (directed by Hürzeler) will be screened in Chicago at the Betty Rymer Gallery later this summer. Enright shows with Vilma Gold in London and has had group exhibitions at the Moore Space and Fredric Snitzer Gallery in Miami, P.S.1 in Long Island City, MASS MOCA, and LACE in Los Angeles. Enright currently owns and runs Video and Adventure Services, a business/art project that offers kidnapping as well as a host of “customized reality adventures” to CEOs and celebrities.
Brian Finke (American, b. 1976) holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in NY where he currently lives and works. Often working in a series, Finke spent two years on the sidelines of high school and college football games photographing cheerleaders. These images tell a story of the continuing drama of cheerleading played out in small towns and urban cities across America. His work explores the lives and development of cheerleaders and how they address such issues as social behavior, sexuality and individuality. His book 2-4-6-8: American Cheerleaders and Football Players was published by Umbrage Editions in 2003. Finke has had solo shows at the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art in Florida, ClampArt in NY, Stephen Cohen in LA, and Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago. His photos are in collections such as the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Museum of Fine Art Houston, Saint Louis Art Museum, and Kiyosata Museum of Photographic Arts in Japan. Finke also photographs for GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker.
Luis Gispert (American, b. 1972) received his MFA from Yale University, his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. Gispert’s photographs and videos mimic pop-culture iconography while simultaneously twisting it. His complexly composed photographs attest to the Baroqueness of the hip-hop subculture that is infiltrating the mainstream. Blinged-out Latina cheerleaders floating in a green screen emphasize identity politics and today’s blurring of socio-cultural lines. In 2005, Gispert & Jeffery Reed exhibited their collaborative video “Stereomongrel” at The Whitney Museum NY, Zach Feuer Gallery NY, and at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum. His work is in such collections as the Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Miami Art Museum. Gispert was recently featured in the Independent Curators International group show “Situation Comedy: Humor In Recent Art” at the Chicago Cultural Center curated by Dominic Molon (MCA Chicago) and Michael Rooks (MCA Honolulu).
Cassandra C. Jones (American b. 1975) holds an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Jones’ Good Cheer is an installation of wallpaper is decoratively patterned with colorful rosettes. Upon closer inspection, the viewer discovers that the pattern is actually composed of found snapshot photographs of cheerleaders performing high kicks and routine stunts that flaunt their briefs. Pitting the domestic wallpaper against the sexual imagery, the work of art physically surrounds the viewer in with a paradox of ethical ambiguity between family values and pornography. In 2006, Jones made a special project booth with Nathan Larramendy Gallery at the PULSE Fair in NY. She has had solo exhibitions with Larramendy in CA and at the Melwood Gallery in Pittsburgh. Jones is currently an artist-in-residency at the Drake Hotel in Toronto, Canada.
New Catalogue is a collaboration between Chicago-based Luke Batten (American b. 1968) with an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Jonathan Sadler (American b. 1965) with an MFA from The Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston. New Catalogue has been described by Tony Wight as “a production project that parallels the corporate model of a stock photo agency while simultaneously expanding upon and critiquing this model. Their various series explore contemporary issues and popular culture while augmenting the discourse surrounding traditional genres of photographic image making.” New Catalogue had a solo exhibition “The Lost Cheerleaders” at Bodybuilder & Sportsman Gallery, where they debuted their book Big Ten Co-Eds, Preppy Girls, and The Lost Cheerleaders published by Nazraeli Press. Photos from The Lost Cheerleaders will be featured alongside a new text-based work employing New Catalogue’s strategy of using this iconic image to cheer on their own brand name. Their work was featured in the Prague Biennial 2005 at the National Gallery of Prague and had a solo project at the MCA Chicago in their 12×12/new artists new work series in 2004. Batten is an Assistant Professor at the School of Art & Design at the University of Illinois, Champaign and Sadler is an Instructor of digital photography at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Chicago Spirit Brigade was founded in 2003 as a non-profit, all-volunteer adult cheerleading organization. They are rooted in the Gay/Lesbian community but are welcoming to all. The organization’s goals are to provide support to people living with life-threatening challenges through their “Spread the Cheer!” program and to promote unity and celebrate diversity with their collegiate-style cheerleading. Chicago Spirit Brigade is part of the Pride Cheerleading Association, a growing list of nationwide community-based cheer squads that raise money for grassroots organizations who work hard on the frontlines to provide relief to those suffering within our communities. Don’t miss their performances at Chicago’s Gay Games Saturday July 15th at the Opening Ceremonies and Sunday July 16th at the 2pm Cheer/Color Guard Exhibition. Check out their website at: http://www.chicagospiritbrigade.org/