In her second exhibition at Halsey McKay, conceptual multidisciplinary artist Arielle Falk presents a series of works that engage with fantasy. The coordinates of fantasy were mapped out by French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s matheme $<>a. The matheme expresses $, the subject’s relationship to a, the unattainable object of desire, or one’s fantasy. The diamond <>can be read as < and > (less than or greater than) and implies the relationship to fantasy is out of balance. The matheme became Falk’s inspiration to create her own symbolic vocabulary that articulated her relationship to fantasy.

The artist lived in a rooftop cabana in industrial Bushwick for 60 days at the end of the summer of 2014. Unremittingly exposed to the elements, isolated, rarely leaving the roof except to buy food and supplies, Falk adopted the role of “castaway,” shipwrecked on her very own “roof island.” The setting, when viewed through the lens of fantasy, suggested to Falk a tropical getaway. In reality, her “island” was located in a barren, nature-deprived section of Brooklyn, one story above several working factories. This became the perfect vantage point for her to examine the dichotomy between fantasy and reality.

In her installation, which consists of a series of what Falk describes as “tattered flags” or the “remnants of sails from a shipwreck,” the artist channels the privations she experienced on the rooftop. Using generic stock images of paradise – wall murals intended for use by the manufacturer as inspirational scenic backdrops for offices – Falk manipulates the material with a hot air gun to recreate her constant exposure to the extreme heat, light, darkness and the movement of the wind. In the resulting lace-like pieces, Falk carefully destroys the idyllic imagery, literally creating holes in a physical representation of fantasy, mirroring the disintegration of the artist’s own whimsical second-life as “castaway.” The works embody the tension between the imagined beauty and stark reality of her temporary rooftop home.

Arielle Falk (b. 1983, Washington DC) is a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary conceptual artist. She received her BA from Eugene Lang College (NYC) in 2007 and has since exhibited her work at venues such as Interstate Projects, P.P.O.W Gallery, Envoy Enterprises, and Movement Research at Judson Church as well as video festivals throughout the United States and abroad. She is a 2010-2011 recipient of the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art. Most recently, Falk presented solo exhibitions at Auxiliary Projects (Brooklyn, NY) and Halsey McKay Gallery (East Hampton, NY), as well as performed at Art Untitled Fair 2013 (Miami, FL). Her work has been noted by such publications as The Village Voice, Time Out NY, The Huffington Post, Hyperallergic.com, and NY Magazine, as well as featured on WNYC Radio.

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