Curator: Gregory Uzelac
14–26 February 2023
DARLINGS, in partnership with Puzzle, present Horse Girl an immersive exhibition curated by New York/Sydney-based artist and curator Gregory Uzelac inspired by the works of Australian painter and object maker Ella Burke.
Enter this kawaii cabinet of curiosities and you may feel an unnervingly fuzzy feeling. Through 2000s iconography, animals, and vibrant colour, Ella Burke’s work examines the ways in which we alter and glamorise youthful memory. This room similarly operates as an adorable but unsettling facade. With deterioration literally masked by pink and ponies, this exhibition thrusts us into the uncanniness of arrested development and the corrosive denial that is bred from hiding out in a sanitized, self-constructed past.
Burke, Uzelac and their fellow artists have collaboratively transformed Puzzle Art Garage into a bedroom that gives form to the liminal space between childhood and adulthood that the titular Horse Girl occupies. A bedridden laptop plays Wolfgang Saker’s video work Fun For Everyone, which repeatedly plays out a perverse drama in which Horse Girl becomes infatuated with pop star Phillipa, driving her to violent dissociation. Print works by Saker and Meg Spectre hijack the space usually reserved for teen idols, while a painting by Uzelac, created by amalgamating all of One Direction, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, BTS, and and Justin Bieber’s music videos make us consider the iconography and intentions of our favourite youth celebrities. Alexandra Jonscher’s bespoke garments emphasize the digital effect, as her post-internet automatism reinvents garments just as Horse Girl reinvents her own memories. While at first glance Dean Qiulin Li’s life-size window work appears to domesticate this Neverland, it also reveals the bedroom’s entrapping nature. All the while, Genna Howard’s cartoonish Smoking Horse surveils the scene with a smirk. This place is not as innocent and care-free as it seems.
Reconsider your own escapism and romanticism. Nostalgia is quite an addictive opiate. Too much of a good thing like that and you might end up in here forever.
Ella Burke (b. 2001 in Forbes, NSW, Australia) is a multidisciplinary artist whose exuberant practice involves painting, sculpture and installation. Drawing inspiration from the cross-section of her own personal experience and popular children's media in the early 2000’s, Burke investigates the nostalgia and impressions that build up our memories of youth, leaning into that which is misremembered. Burke was born and raised in the regional New South Wales. She completed a Bachelor of Arts at the National Art School in 2022 and is now based in Sydney.
Gregory Uzelac (b.1990 in New York, NY, USA) is an artist, writer, and curator working between New York and Eora/Sydney. A multilingual son of immigrants, Uzelac's work draws inspiration from the cultural hybridisation of migration, mass media, and myth. Uzelac received BA from Northwestern University in 2013 and a MFA from Sydney University in 2022. Uzelac merges esoteric study with the Superflat Theory of artist Takashi Murakam, indiscriminately, bringing together literary, cinematic, religious, and historical elements to produce tales relevant to society now.
Dean Qiulin Li (b. 1992 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China) uses photography and photographic media to explore the relationships between people and the public and private spaces in which they live. Li's work is aesthetic anthropology as he studies the impact of environment on people’s identities, social behaviours, and ways of thinking. Always expanding beyond the expectations of photography, Li seeks to break the boundary between artwork and viewer through experimental presentation, creating open and immersive viewing experiences that stir his audience’s sense of place and collective memory.
Genna Howard (b. 1991 in New York, NY, USA ) is a painter, tattoo artist, and ceramicist based in Brooklyn, NY. Howard’s is an intersectional approach to creating “flash,” the artwork historically designed for tattooing. They devise evocative symbols — sometimes menacing sometimes charming — but always imbued with dedication and emotional resonance. Howard's art is indiscriminate and popular, drawing upon references to cartoons and classical Old American tattoo flash. Howard received a BFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts in 2014 and apprenticed amongst the top artists in New York’s tattoo community.
Alexandra Jonscher (b. 1997, Chicago, IL, USA) is an interdisciplinary artist working in painting, sculpture, photo-media, installation and wearables based in Eora/Sydney. Her practice responds to how technology and screen-based cultures effect our constructions of identity, communication and social relations. In 2020, Alexandra launched the fashion label Dylan Alexander as an offshoot of her art practice. Dylan Alexander is based on creative recycling and garment upcycling as a way to synthesize fine art and wearables.
Amelia “Meg Spectre” Sylvor Greenberg (b. 1998 in New York, NY, USA) is an artist and performer whose practice aims to explore what is and is not cringe (and why that is so). She seeks to achieve this via unironic multidisciplinary work that employs para-fictional persona, cultural ephemera, self-referencing motifs, earnestness, honesty, and misdirection—all operating under the ethos of performing, with an emphasis on “song and dance”, “stardom”, and “showmanship”, without the necessary expectation of talent or polish.