Cady Noland

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Cady Noland

Work from her oeuvre.

“Michèle Cone: Practically every piece I have seen of yours in group shows or in your one-person shows projects a sense of violence, via signs of confinement — enclosures, gates, boxes, or the aftermath of accident, murder, fighting, boxing, or as in your recent cut-out and pop-up pieces — bullet holes.

Cady Noland: Violence used to be part of life in America and had a positive reputation. Apparently, at least according to Lewis Coser who was writing about the transition of sociology in relation to violence, at a certain point violence used to describe sociology in a very positive way. There was a kind of righteousness about violence — the break with England, fighting for our rights, the Boston Tea Party. Now, in our culture as it is, there is one official social norm — and acts of violence, expressions of dissatisfaction are framed in an atomized view as being “abnormal.”

Cone: There are clear references to extreme cases of violence in the United States, Lincoln and Booth, Kennedy and Oswald, Patricia Hearst, etc. . . .

Noland: In the United States at present we don’t have a “language of dissension.” You might say people visit their frustrations on other individuals and that acts as a type of “safety valve” to “have steam let off.” People may complain about “all of the violence there is today,” but if there weren’t these more individual forms of venting, there would more likely be rioters or committees expressing dissatisfaction in a more collective way. Violence has always been around. The seeming randomness of it now actually indicates the lack of political organization representing different interests. “Inalienable rights” become something so inane that they break down into men believing that they have the right to be superior to women (there’s someone lower on the ladder than they) so if a woman won’t dare them any more they have a right to murder them. It’s called the peace in the feud. In this fashion, hostility and envy are vented without threatening the structures of society. MC: In some of your pieces — like Celebrity Trash — which spill over the floor, the violence is implied in the “trashing” gesture, whereas in your two-dimensional works, the violence is connoted by the title or the historic reference or simply by a word like “Texas.”

Noland: When I was making Celebrity Trash I was reading The Globe and The Star and saw that what is done is that you consume all of these celebrities each week, then you turn them into trash. This trashing helps to dampen people’s anger over their situation or their own place in the hierarchy of importance. The word “Texas” has a kind of cultural capital. It is shorthand for Kennedy’s assassination and for a certain time in the 1960s. Speaking on a financial level, it’s interesting how once a certain amount of capital has been invested in a rock group, for example, certain recordings can be dressed up or recontextualized opportunistically to take advantage of a new “trend” or something new it can be attached to. It can be squeezed like a lemon, but it becomes almost an organic thing and it gets revived and squeezed again. I read in a trashy novel once something which implied that the deaths of certain rock stars might have meant more capital for record company and that there are speculations that a few deaths might have been “arranged.”- Interview with the Journal of Contemporary Art

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