The Mauve Decade 23rd – 29th June 2014

Launch Pad is delighted to present the second site-specific commission at the home of Launch Pad founder and contemporary art patron, Sarah Elson. San Francisco-based artist Josh Faught will have free rein in part of Elson’s West London family home to create several works in response to the space.

Josh Faught (b.1979, St. Louis, Missouri) makes hand-woven and embellished sculptures and installations that address personal and cultural identity. Combining homespun techniques like knitting and crocheting with items like greeting cards, political badges, sequins and nail polish, Faught’s work explores the anxiety, self-referencing and obsessive characteristics that are often associated with the activities of a craft hobbyist. Deliberately mis-shapen, untidy and riddled with bulbous pouches, loose threads or uneven patches, Faught plays with our expectations of his chosen medium and craft. What sometimes appears at first to be a formal exploration of texture, colour and pattern, on closer inspection reveals evidence of a knowing sense of humour: a button reading “if you can’t reach me it’s because I’m screening my calls,” self-help books, or small signs hand-printed with banal jokes. The wooden supports that form the frames and armatures for the pieces resemble garden trellises clothed with purposely crudely-knitted and ill-fitting jumpers. The works have strong human affinities, both in scale and sentiment.

Themes of loss, threat and protection feature prominently in Faught’s work.

Recently, Faught was awarded a commission by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for the Columbarium, a memorial to victims of the AIDS epidemic. Taking cues from the hundreds of niches there, decorated with tokens and mementoes left by loved ones, Faught titled his piece “BE BOLD for what you stand for. BE CAREFUL for what you fall for.” The 20-foot woven and crocheted work simultaneously strikes a warning bell and a call to action. Faught’s use of organic dyes like cochineal and indigo, especially suited to the palette of the Columbarium, contribute to the vanitas theme with their unstable and fugitive qualities. More pointedly, a clock face, forever stalled in time, is woven into the work. Lest one lose sight of the real people memorialized here though, Faught tempers the mood with lively and poignant humour. A jar with the “ashes of telephone solicitors,” a VHS copy of “Clockwatchers,” and metallic cheerleading pom-poms redirect the viewer and protect the inhabitants from being remembered only for their death.

For Launch Pad, Faught’s commission titled “The Mauve Decade” refers to the period known as the “Gay Nineties,” or 1890s London. The title encapsulates aesthetic, political and historical shifts and fashions that were at play during the development of suburban London. During this time, the site of Launch Pad in Holland Park was regarded as a refuge from toxic, unhygienic City of London. Staying physically safe, protected from unsanitary conditions and airborne pollutants of the city centre in later 19th century was a primary driver in the exodus of Britain’s wealthier citizens to the suburbs. Faught is interested in “this space of transition and restlessness that led people to create homes and environments that were boundaries, protective havens, and sites of isolation.” As Faught explains, the colour mauve “is an incredibly divisive color; at once garish and slightly noble.” Derived from aniline purple dyes that were later discovered to be completely toxic, mauve was originally more of a royal purple. However, with sunlight and time, the colour degraded to a dustier hue. “The Mauve Decade” will address themes of transition and time, danger and protection, occupying the centre of the house with several works.

A conversation between Josh Faught and Guests to be moderated by Iwona Blazwick will take place during the exhibition. Date to be confirmed.

Josh Faught lives and works in San Francisco, California. He is currently Assistant Professor at the California College of Arts in Oakland and San Francisco. Recent solo museum exhibitions include the above-mentioned site-specific installation at the Neptune Society Columbarium as part of the SF MOMA SECA Art Award Exhibition; the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Missouri (both 2013); and the Seattle Art Museum in conjunction with the Betty Bowen Award (2009). Forthcoming group exhibitions include Fiber in Form in 2014 at the ICA, Boston; and Rites of Spring at the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston in 2014.