Harper’s Chelsea 534, NYC // June 30, 2022 – August 12, 2022
In I Want to Thank You, Alannah Farrell ushers the viewer into tender moments of queer life. The 34-year-old New York-based artist documents queer friends and strangers—many of whom they meet via dating apps and social media platforms. Though the artist paints their sitters from their Brooklyn studio, Farrell repeatedly grounds their figures in intimate bedrooms or imagined spaces, bathed in ethereal swashes of coral and cyan. When painting their sitters in the nude or semi-nude, Farrell pays close attention to corporeal markers of transness. In Ari (Downtown Brooklyn), for example, a faint scar traces the model’s chest – a bodily vestige of a preceding top surgery. Collectively, in these thoughtfully staged portraits, the artist captures quiet scenes of contemplation, which often hint at the metaphysical realm.
This tension between the real and the surreal colors the objects that Farrell’s subjects carry with them while they pose. In Ari (Downtown Brooklyn), a glimmering beam of light emanates from the tip of a sex toy: the figure, whose steady gaze meets the viewer, grips the sparkling riding crop. In X (Pearl Street), brilliant light, refracting off of a crimson Dr. Martens boot, shatters the materiality in an otherwise tangible visual plane. Other times, an abstracted vision of reality is rendered through clothing. As if ready to take flight, the model in Annasophia at Dusk (Fidi) dons an iridescent dress that billows in bewitching, divine light.
Color unlocks immortality in Farrell’s subjects as they greet this supernatural radiance. In each work, a whimsical mélange of hues bathes the protagonists in eternal warmth. Playful pastels repeatedly join profound blues to form hypnotic compositions. The figures appear to be suspended in stillness: Farrell’s theatrical manipulation of light and color stretches time itself in these scenes, launching the observer into new temporalities altogether.
In his canonical 2005 work In a Queer Time and Place, theorist Jack Halberstam terms this subversive approach to periodization “queer time,” stating: “queers use space and time in ways that challenge conventional logics of development, maturity, adulthood, and responsibility.” Throughout I Want to Thank You, Alannah Farrell suggests that this queer mode of moving through space is teeming with possibility. Steeped in queer time, Farrell’s prismatic works invite the public into lucid dreamscapes, unfettered by the societal restraints on queer and trans existence in the physical world. Ultimately, Farrell captures capacious territories of queer being that contest and expand the dialectic of corporal existence. —Daniella Brito
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