Jamie Isenstein

September 28, 2007 - November 11, 2007


Jamie Isenstein was born in 1975 in Portland, Oregon, and lives in New York. She earned her BA from Reed College in Portland in 1998 and her MFA from Columbia University in 2004. Her performances, installations, drawings, and sculptures have been the subject of solo exhibitions at Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York (2007); Meyer Riegger Galerie, Karlsruhe and Berlin, Germany (2006); and Guild and Greyshkul, New York (2004). Group exhibitions include those at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco; and Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna. Reviews of Isenstein’s work have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Contemporary, Art in America, and Modern Painters.

About the Exhibition

By Ali Subotnick


In her exhibitions and projects Jamie Isenstein often absorbs the personas of inanimate objects (sometimes, uncomfortably, for hours at a time), sitting—or standing or crouching—at the mercy of her art. She has transformed herself into a wingback armchair with her legs serving as the chair’s two front legs and her arms as the chair’s arms (the rest of her body hides inside the upholstered chair). In other works she uses herself as a character. For the Performa 05 Biennial she wrote and performed a radio program, Inside Out with Jamie Isenstein, that featured the artist in conversation with her skeleton and a bottle of lotion. The topic of the program: a recent book about plastic surgery’s effect on popular music, using Michael Jackson and Cher as examples. She turns the inside out and recontextualizes the familiar, making us see the world around us in a different light.


In Infinite Invisible Soft-Shoe (2004), accompanied by a ragtime arrangement of the Bee Gee’s “Staying Alive” on a player piano, thick red velvet theater curtains rise and fall in a ghostly dance on an empty stage set. (Isenstein hides behind the curtains, pulling the cords like a puppet master.) The companion video features the artist and a life-size skeleton—both costumed in tuxedo jackets, top hats, and Groucho Marx glasses and holding canes—performing a soft-shoe dance. Isenstein makes us consider our physicality, anthropomorphizing and animating everyday objects and transforming her body into various inanimate objects. More

Ali Subotnick is a curator at the Hammer Museum.

Hammer Projects: Jamie Isenstein
is presented through a residency at the Hammer Museum. The Hammer Museum’s Artist Residency Program was initiated with funding from the Nimoy Foundation and is supported through a significant grant from The James Irvine Foundation.

The Hammer Projects exhibition series is made possible with support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, Fox Entertainment Group’s Arts Development Fee, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, members of the Hammer Circle, and the David Teiger Curatorial Travel Fund.


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