A Bigger Canvas for Jayson Musson Includes Puppets and Picasso

Philadelphia — A movie set showing at the Fabric Workshop and Museum looks like the museum’s gift shop gone bankrupt. A copy of Michelangelo’s “Pietà” transformed into a chair with most of Jesus’ body removed to make room for a cushion. I expressed it three-dimensionally. The anamorphic skull image of Hans Holbein’s “Ambassador” (1533) forms the surface of his coffee table. And inside it sits a large animatronic doll. It’s a scruffy, gray pothead rabbit named Ollie.

“I entered the world of”his art history,” Jason MassonFirst solo exhibition at a museum. Fabric plays on large individual screens, along with three videos of him filmed in his workshop, along with set and behind-the-scenes galleries showcasing how the pieces are made. The project draws on sitcoms, educational television shows for children, performances, his art, and art history lectures to create something quirky and profound.

Musson appears in the video as a collector named Jay, explaining art and its historical relevance to his roommate Ollie, and enlisting the help of historic guests such as Picasso and the Venus of Willendorf (at Juniper). Performed by actresses wrapped in oversized costumes made (foam, sand, resin). Jay speaks in a singing tone and conveys something of Mr. Rogers, but the way he speaks is often condescending and his precepts are harsh. Neighbors without pants,” he says in his first episode. Many of the jokes are punctuated by laugh tracks.

If you know Musson’s name or face, or his brand of painfully honest humor, chances are you’re thinking of Hennessy Youngman, the character he created during his graduate school days. One Masson grew up in Spring Valley, a suburb of New York City, and moved to Philadelphia for college (BFA from art college). He spent his twenties there, immersing himself in the city’s DIY creative scene. That is, he kept his service job while working, rapping and performing and touring with his group. plastic littleAfter 10 years of that life, he decided to get an MFA in search of more stability.

I entered the University of Pennsylvania in 2009, and was initially confused. In an interview in a small Philadelphia park near the coffee shop where he used to work, Masson said:

To cope, he began making short videos, posing as a hip-hop expert, mockingly explaining key concepts in contemporary art. And he offered advice on how to become a successful artist (hint 1: “Be white”).

Hennessy Youngman wore a gold chain and hat with the face of a cartoon or comic book character. While the content of the video was often hilarious, its premise also alluded to the world of predominantly white art: the humor made them feel that this type of black person didn’t or shouldn’t belong. What did you say about them if they depended on the expectations of

“Psychologically, making a piece got me through graduate school,” Musson said.

He started posting videos titled “Art Thoughtz.” Youtube in 2010 — and quickly became famous. Or at least famous in the art world.

“When we started spinning it, it was like wildfire,” says dealer Jeanne Greenberg-Rohatin, who represented Salon 94, a New York City gallery from 2012 until it disbanded last year. Told. She met Musson through another artist, who had also seen her, and she was deeply impressed by ‘Art Thought’.

“He can write, he can act, he can make art,” she continued. “He is a Renaissance artist.”

‘Art Thought’ put Mousson in the spotlight and brought new resources and opportunities.He didn’t use them to do what Hennessey, or even Jay, might have advised: make more videos to solidify his brand. created an object cougi sweater Not only did he cut it out and sew it back into an abstract composition, Realization of full size A modern imitation drawn by cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller in the comic strip “Nancy”.

“It’s nice to have an eye on your work and have a conversation, but you have to know when to get things done,” Masson said. We should try to finish , otherwise we will be indebted to what we created 15 years ago.”

In addition to a series of discrete objects exhibited in galleries, his output since “Art Thoughtz” includes works released directly on the internet.Adventures of Jamel, a web series about a time-traveling B-boy. A pop music mix dubbed ironically.CVS BangersAn array like this might look scattered, but that’s proof that someone is constantly dreaming and trying out ideas.

There are also conceptual strands that lead to Musson, like his interest in cartoons and comics that he loved reading and creating as a child. At his request, his father, the graphic designer, cut out his strips of comics for him with an Exacto knife. “We taped it to the wall and made it talk,” Masson said. “I wanted them to be isolated shapes, on a wall, away from the world.”

Another thread is humor, which he calls “the most important thing.”

“Jokes are powerful, but it’s not easy to tell a good joke,” he added. “I think the reason Hennessy was successful was because I was more interested in jokes than information.

Another Philadelphia-based artist, Becky Suss, who has known Musson for nearly 20 years, emphasized that humor is central to his existence. “There’s something very tangible about how smart and funny Jason is as a person, and how he’s been able to make it an integral part of his art,” she said. “Not all of us do.”

In fact, Masson wears comedy lightly, cracking jokes along the way and never worrying about how to land. The actors, puppeteers, assistant director, production company, and fabric studio staff involved in this film were larger than any other project I had ever worked on, and it was difficult to polish my sense of humor. Doll making to bring Musson’s vision to life.

Alec Unkovic, the museum’s interim exhibition director, characterized the project as answering the following questions: Collaborator? ” Masson spoke of it as well, calling it a “deer moment in the headlights” to get a lot of support.

The depth of collaboration is conveyed in the gallery. After watching the video, visitors can tell how much work has been done, from the character sketches and inspirational images displayed around an early Oscar the Grouch-like version of Ollie to the bulletin boards. You can check whether Boards containing script pages, storyboards, and still images. In a way, the second half of the show is a direct counter-argument to the third episode of “His History,” in which Jay tells Ollie he must be a genius in order to create great art, leading to a manic, muscular call a man Picasso proves it.

But it is natural. Like “Art Thoughtz,” “His History” confounds our expectations rather than offering a definitive critique. Is it a TV show or is it an art project? Is it for adults or for children? Serious or tongue in cheek? all of the above.

“I don’t want to be an art critic, because a critic has all the answers, even if they don’t,” Musson said. “I wanted to be a zoo chimpanzee [expletive] around it. “

In particular, “His History” marks Musson’s return to the screen for the first time in ten years. To play the character of Jay, he grew his hair out, but now has gray streaks and “Frederick Douglass hair,” he sarcastically added, when we spoke, he had pigtails. returned to His presence was a cornerstone of “Art Thoughts,” but Musson didn’t need to because he didn’t really like acting and even considered making Jay a puppet.

“I went full on YouTube,” he said. “I like to sit in my room and sew. he offered one.

Jason Masson: His Art History

through November 13, Fabric Workshop and Museum, 1214 Arch Street, Philadelphia, (215) 561-8888. fabricworkshopandmuseum.org.

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