June 17 - July 15, 2017
Michael Assiff, R.Lord, and Jonathan Santoro
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease resulting from infection by Toxoplasma gondii, one of the most common parasites in the world. Though toxoplasmosis is estimated to infect 30-50% of the world population, its effects are subtle. In rats and mice, the disease is understood to rewire the brain, making the rodents perversely attracted to cats, thus ensuring their demise. Likewise, in infected human counterparts, attraction to felines is one of the noted symptoms, in addition to paranoia, confusion, depression, and fluctuations in social behaviors and the superego.
Working through the means of found objects, painting, cast sculpture, and built environments, Michael Assiff, R.Lord, and Jonathan Santoro explore the symptoms of toxoplasmosis as a metaphor for the present American political landscape. Their exhibition, Toxoplasmosis, reconfigures familiar domestic objects to create an atmosphere of anxiety, blurring lines between fact and fiction, reality and invention.
Assiff has built a paranoiac’s apocalyptic, fort-like movie streaming bunker and littered the floor with reimagined Netflix DVD sleeves, which cull alarmist news headlines into consumable entertainment made for binge-watching.
Lord’s painting references the chaotic internal struggle between the parasite and the host, forced to act against its own self interest — mirrored in our larger social structures of power and commerce, as individuals are coaxed to buy things they don’t need in order to keep the wheels of capital churning.
Santoro approximates a sly take on the primary progenitor of the parasite, the cat, who hides in plain sight. Considering the elusive nature of the disease’s subtle symptoms, he references two famously elusive cats, Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat, and the hypothetical feline of Schrodinger’s famous thought experiment, both representing contingent realities where the cat is simultaneously absent and omnipresent.
Toxoplasmosis is a glimpse into constructions of truths; a look into a quietly apocalyptic future, or perhaps an alternative present.
- Meredith Sellers