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Josh Mannis Opening Reception - Zeal For The Law

JOSH MANNIS observing something Olympic and something perfect in the work. where does the palette come from?
By Joey Frank
February, 2012

The Palette:

The colors of the Nadia drawings seem old. The yellow/gold and green and red and black seem institutional, a kind of 1970's European National palette.
The Nadia drawings were inspired by gymnast Nadia Comăneci and not the protagonist of Andre Breton's novel Nadja. The video of Nadia's 1976 Olympic feat of perfection on the uneven bars, preserved on YouTube, explains ink tipped mark making. The friction of her uniform moving through space.
The movement of her deft pre-sexual athleticism, the colors of ink are similar to the Romanian national uniform stripes running from Nadia's armpit to hip. Her body moves the stripes through the motions before the struggling video camera. As for the painting drawings in this scenario, the white patch of paper becomes a rectangle of white spandex.
The video camera hand struggles to record Comăneci.

Seeing the white paper of the painted drawings as a swath of spandex, invokes the cloth aspect of the work. All the clothing in the videos is tailored by Mannis himself. It seems like an ethical stance, but why? To evoke the handmade nature of the gymnast uniforms, tailored not only to the specific body but to a set of modest Nationalist standards?
The hanging tapestry "The Law" includes a large rectangle of square plaid fabric, maybe a sort of tartan. The same fabric was used to make the pants for the "Zeal for the Law" video. The tartan: wearing it was made illigal in Scotland as an attempt to crush Gaelic culture. When that law was repealed in 1782, the tartan plaid became symbolic national attire. The correlation: tapestry of plaid pants fabric to the white paper as spandex on Nadia Comăneci.

The Pallet:

The movement of the blond-wigged Mannis evokes the inexhaustible physical prowess of the Olympic gymnast. The physical confrontation in "Zeal for the Law"initially feels like a wrestler squaring off but then takes on the intensity of something more tribal, a war dance. Nationalism and the confidence of coordination are at play.
An explaination for the tapestry "The Law" was as an "ancestor totem, or generic sign for an entire tribe or nation." The two symetrical metal objects are like eyes, with the gold chains symbolizing the bondage of a people, but also golden pathways for information from golden eyes.
The pallet I am interested in is the makeshift mattress; a servants sleeping rectangle from the middle ages - a straw mat placed on the floor and covered with cloth. This mat, functionally a bed, is a servants place to dream. The dream of the athlete includes service not only to a team or a nation (in the case of the Olympics) but service to a routine of physical movements.
The multiplying in the videos reinforce the feelings of a nation coordinated in its movements. But nation of pre-adolecents is by nature unstable and impos
sible. Italians used to castrate young boys to preserve their high pitched singing voices. But a Nation of castrati could never exist, could never reproduce.
A coordinated dance implies a cohisive unity in the thinking of the dancers. Unity of this type implies a certain compliance with the law - but this is more than compliance! it's Zeal!
With the law comes the badge, and the medallion dangling from gold chain of this swinger figure implies both an officer of the law and a gold medalist, the perfect example of how the law should be executed.
The Olympic gold. Its hard not to see it as nipples to me, as pre-sexual nipples, dormant bitch- tits of the fatty child. These clay sculpted golden bits are the most ancient world aspect of the work. They are not about fertility but about a softness that aspires to either soft milk bearing breasts or strong pectoral muscles. They are a body part ready to bloom in accordance with the Law.

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