The Stick weaves together Justine Kurland’s latest series of searingly intimate black-and-white photographs with her late father Bruce Kurland’s still life paintings. The two bodies of work—punctuated by poems by Lisa Jarnot, a former lover of Bruce Kurland’s—enact a new kind of family album, full of strange relics and mercurial artistry that link father and daughter. Boarded-up windows, a pregnant dog, chewing gum vulvas, and a former partner’s strap-on are in conversation with Bruce Kurland’s surreal compositional inventions—flowering branches draped with strips of raw bacon, a ripe cleaved peach seemingly levitating against a blue wall, and dematerialized birds dangling in space. Seen in tandem, the photographs take on the dreamlike uncanniness of the paintings and the symbolism of the still lifes finds embodied sensuality in the photographs.
Justine Kurland’s work in The Stick is the first she has published since selling her van four years ago and renouncing the road trips she is known for. This series unfolds across her apartment in New York City, her hometown of Fulton, New York, and her mother’s home in rural Virginia. Kurland invaginates fragments of this life with allusions to the work of Carolee Schneemann, Betty Tompkins, Judy Chicago, Hannah Wilke, and Emily Roysdon. Three of her father’s paintings—a diminutive portrait of himself wearing a pot as a hat, a likeness of Justine Kurland’s mother, and his final self-portrait before his death—appear in her work, linking disparate slices of life, spaces that are and were once called home, and notions of family across time and place.