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Arden Surdam: Nausea


Galveston Artist Residency presents, NAUSEA, a solo exhibition by Los Angeles based artist, Arden Surdam.

For her first show in Texas, Surdam presents six photographs alongside a freshwater aquatic installation and a custom donut-shaped algae tank, which will cultivate the growth of cyanobacteria (spirulina) during the exhibition period.

Through ongoing research on the coded relationship between art and food, Surdam’s work probes the convergence of class, art history, and culinary traditions. Directing viewers to tune into the historical use of food and its visual representation, the artist transgresses established conventions of cultural patterning and class-determined consumption.

The photographs presented in NAUSEA feature food matter like liver, rayfish, and oysters, a reference to the canonical paintings of Soutine, Bacon, and Chardin. These elegantly grotesque substances, conflate delectability, opulence, and repulsion within the still life. In addition to food materials, Surdam interjects images torn from the pages of American 1970s international cuisine cookbooks, which present visual directions on how to cook sophisticated, intercontinental meals. By re-photographing these images, the artist disrupts the intentionality of food worldliness, questioning prescribed notions of value with portrayals of food loathing and food worshipping.

The term nausea suggests disgust, revulsion, but also to revolt, as demonstrated in nausea’s final result -physical expulsion. This reaction, both experiential and psychological, is heightened by scent, motion, or ingestion. The somatic nature of nausea is thus established in Surdam’s sculptural interventions of cultured algae and an aquatic tank, which are activated and destabilized by light, heat, and fluid. Mutating over the span of the exhibition, these works recall the instability of culinary likes and dislikes -a food material (spirulina) considered delectable in one century can be collectively repugnant in another. Accordingly, this (occasionally absurd) hierarchy of taste becomes the foreground for NAUSEA.

Arden Surdam (b. 1988 New York, NY) received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2015 and her BFA from Oberlin College in 2010. Her work has appeared in GARAGE Magazine, CARLA, Tzvetnik, Singing Saw Press, Kubaparis, Paris Photo Parcours, TERREMOTO, and Photograph Magazine among other publications. Recent exhibitions include: Hold Your Breath, SLOAN Projects, Los Angeles, CA (2017); Not All There, Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA (2018); A Curious Herbal, GARDEN, Los Angeles, CA (2017); Real Shadows for Mere Bodies, College of the Canyons with Stephanie Deumer, Santa Clarita, CA (2017); Exposed with Jo Ann Callis at the California Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2017); Paris Photo (2017), and Solid Liquid at The Situation Room, Los Angeles, CA (2016).


Arden Surdam: Nausea

March 9 – May 18th,2019

Galveston Artist Residency

2521 Mechanic St

Galveston, TX 77550

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