2008 Altoids Award exhibition

Michael Stickrod addresses the psychology of human ties by cutting to the center of his familial circle. The videos on view take his mother and father as his subject matter. Stickrod uses scanned photographs and found audio to create nearly abstract sequences embedded between incising confessions and footage of his family. In Vacation Money, Saundra Stickrod, the artist’s mother, recounts her father’s gangrene, diabetes, and strokes, and as she rakes her weedy garden from a wheelchair, ruminates on how his death has fed into her own fears. In Vacation Tapes, Saundra Stickrod continues to relate intimate periods in her personal history, including the “dream world” vacations she took with her children once a year. While she shuffles through the snow in her floor-length fur coat, or organizes dirty tubes of cosmetics in front of her vanity, her recorded voice from a road trip vacation plays. Stickrod’s use of intimate footage paints a landscape of Middle America that oscillates between bleak and hopeful. The films capture a Depression-era sensibility and are reminiscent of works by American playwrights Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, both of whom have investigated the struggle for autonomy within a family and the dissolution of the American Dream. From Richard Stickrod’s detailed account of his job at a sewage treatment plant, to Saundra Stickrod’s enthusiastic description of retrieving clothing from dumpsters, the narratives that emerge from Michael Stickrod’s work remind viewers that every life strikes a precarious balance between humor and tragedy.

-Jarrett Gregory (New Museum)


2008 Altoids Award exhibition is organized by Massimiliano Gioni, Director of Special Exhibitions, and Jarrett Gregory, Curatorial Assistant. Work selected by Paul McCarthy, Cindy Sherman, and Rirkrit Tiravanija.