My death is pending … Because. Mary Ellen Carroll


Stronger Than Dirt, 2010. Neon, 16 inches x 21 feet x 4 inches.


Installation View, Dirtier Than Strong, 2010. Dipped Neon, (Left), Stronger Than Dirt, 2010. Neon (Right).


Installation View


Faulty Landscape, 1986. Ejaculate, silkscreened oil on canvas, 40 × 50 × 3 inches.


José y José, Palladium, London, 2007. Two Cibachrome prints, 25 × 12.5 inches each.


Late, 2005. Black and White silver gelatin prints, 16 × 16 inches each.


Illy (The tin is half full.), 2007. 8.8 oz., Illy coffee tin, 5.5 × 3.5 × 3.5 inches.


Whatever It Takes, 2007. Video, Power House, Memphis, Tennessee, Cremation remains, Illy coffee tin, performance, polar bear mascot suit.


Whatever It Takes, 2007.


My Death is Pending…Because. Invitation.

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Exhibition Dates: May 21 – August 10, 2010
Opening Reception: May 21, 2010, 9pm-midnight
Special Performance at 10 pm

On Friday, May 21, from 9 pm to midnight, Third Streaming proudly inaugurated a new exhibition by conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll.

My death is pending Because. (1986–2012*) is a series of artworks and performances emerging from a Rube Goldberg/stream-of-consciousness methodology—a conceptual process where something simple is extracted from a set of complex ideas. The series comprises 13 discrete works in a wide variety of materials that draw on an eclectic mix of sources, ranging from the Doors, Jose Feliciano, and Brigitte Bardot to product placement, auction houses, recycling, sperm banks, lateness, investment banks, accidents, and criminality. The series will end in 2012* with an all-female demolition derby at Irwindale Speedway in Los Angeles to be filmed by Danish director Jorgen Leth, known for his coverage of the Tour de France and for his one-take documentary of it. The performances in My death is pending Because are historically situated between Fischli and Weiss’s The Way Things Go and the work of Roman Signer. Carroll posits a complicity between commercial advertising and the visual arts based on their mutual need to plagiarize and capitalize on one another.In the project, Carroll introduces the “sellout” as a self-conscious performative element, referring to a 1967 incident in which the Doors attempted to license Light My Fire to Buick behind Jim Morrison’s back. The sellout is the foundation for Because (2010), a new two-part neon work on view at 3rd Streaming that also makes reference to Carroll’s 2007 performance Stronger Than Dirt.

Additional works in the exhibit include Faulty Landscape (1986), a painting depicting a real crime scene with Brigitte Bardot as the original victim’s body double. The painting takes its title and materials—sperm and Astralon plastic—from Duchamp’s Paysage Fautif .LATE(2005) and Illy (The tin is half full) (2007) are works emerging from a performance in which Carroll created an intentional accident by crashing a 1985 Buick Riviera into Munich’s Museum für Völkerkunde with the president of the German Art Critics Association in the front passenger seat and her father’s cremains in a coffee tin in the glove compartment. The video WHATEVER IT TAKES (2007) features Carroll ascending a defunct smokestack wearing a mascot costume in Memphis to pour half of the contents of the container down the stack, keeping the tin in play in a perpetual game of “kick the can.” This is Carroll’s first solo exhibition in New York since 2001.

2010 marks the beginning of the artist’s ambitious project prototype 180, which makes architecture perform as an aggregate work of art. Ten years in the making, it will be physically realized in a subdivision of Houston, Texas, on October 8, 2010, when a single-family home and its surrounding acreage will be rotated 180 degrees on its central axis by structural movers and engineers. The city of Houston selected itself as site for prototype 180 through its lack of a formal zoning code, allowing Carroll to treat policy as a readymade.

Mary Ellen Carroll is a conceptual artist living and working in New York. She is the recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Graham Foundation Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship and a Pollack/Krasner Award. She was awarded a grant from the Pennies from Heaven Fund for her contribution to New York City as a visual artist for work that is advanced, experimental, and socially visionary. Carroll teaches architecture at Rice University. Her work has been exhibited at numerous galleries and institutions around the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the ICA, London;
Museum für Völkerkunde, Munich; the ICA, Philadelphia; MUMOK, Vienna; and the Renaissance Society, Chicago. She is the executor of the Robert Blanchon Estate. Carroll’s monograph is published by Steidl/Mack and is available this May.

My death is pending World Premiere Performances, 10 pm MEC, op. 5 (2005), written by Carolyn Yarnell, string quartet
MEC, op. 9 (2010), written by Laurie Schwartz, performed by the tenor, Luigi Boccia.

In 1990 Carroll began commissioning composers to write music that would resemble her. Inspired by Gertrude Stein, these compositions are an extension of Carroll’s döppelganger series of works.

Press release

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