Friday, November 3
DOCUMENT is pleased to present Icons and Rituals, Andy Cahill’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.
“One of my earliest sexual memories is looking at the cover of a Bugs Bunny VHS tape I had rented from the video store. This was in the early 1990s, and I was six or seven years old.
The image is of Bugs Bunny bound to a post. One rope is wrapped around his shoulders, and another around his ears. The rope has been rendered with a little more detail than normal- each twist and frayed end has been elaborated. Four drops of sweat run down Bugs Bunny’s brow. He looks up in a state of wide-eyed alarm.
I rented the VHS tape because I was hoping to learn why this was happening to Bugs Bunny, who had done it, and what happens next. To my dismay, I discovered that the cartoons on the videotape had no correlation with the cover image. There was no escape.
This was more than I could process as a child. I hid the VHS tape behind a pillow on the couch. When I was alone I would pull the pillow back and look at it, then cover it again. I was obsessed with it, and deeply ashamed.
Looking at it now, I understand why. A cartoon character is attractive because it is simple. The lack of specificity allows you to see yourself in it. Bugs Bunny, therefore, is a surrogate for self. In this image, however, your surrogate looks back at you, and he waits for you to do something bad to him. To look at Bugs Bunny looking at you is to simultaneously occupy a dominant and submissive position. It is an unstable proposition.
I think of the VHS cover as an icon. It’s not a devotional aid, but looking at it allows me to access the elastic sexuality of a cartoon, where contradictions can exist without reconciliation. It’s a fun house mirror in which I see my darkest impulses neutralized, made buoyant and hysterical.”
– Andy Cahill
Andy Cahill (born 1985) holds an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from RISD. Cahill has exhibited in group shows, recently at V1 Gallery in Copenhagen, CANADA in NY, New York, and Geoffrey Young Gallery in Great Barrington, MA. He has also had solo shows at Paris London Hong Kong in Chicago and at Safe Gallery in Brooklyn. Cahill was awarded a fellowship at Lighthouse Works on Fischer’s Island in 2015. Andy Cahill currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.