Stephen Varble, Untitled, 1982-83 (after drawings from ca. 1981-83), Xerographic print on paper, 8.5 x 11 inches. Gift of Charles Rue Woods to the Faulkner-Morgan Archive, Lexington.
An Antidote to Nature’s Ruin on the Heavenly Globe, Prints and Video of the Early 1980s
Curated by David J. Getsy
20 October - December 1, 2018
Institute 193, Lexington
Stephen Varble became notorious in 1970s New York for his disruptive performances in costumes made from trash and found objects. Born in Owensboro in 1946 and educated at the University of Kentucky, Varble moved to New York in 1969 and established himself as an outsider who mocked elitism, class, and gender. In the later 1970s, he shifted from performance art to drawing and video in an attempt to make art that could be distributed freely and easily. The Xerox machine became an artistic tool, and he started making drawings to be reproduced as xerographic prints. At the same time, he worked on a video epic, titled Journey to the Sun, that he hoped to distribute as “video books.” Institute 193 is proud to present the first exhibition that explores Varble’s interest in reproducible media. Including a selection of prints and excerpted footage of the video Journey to the Sun, the exhibition offers a view of Varble’s energetic final years before his death of AIDS-related complications in the first days of 1984. Poetic, personal, and often perverse, Varble’s prints and video conjure a fantasy world of metamorphosis and the openness of gender. They offer fables of spiritual journeys, rituals of purification, and the transformational possibility of the everyday.
Funding for this exhibition has been received in part from the generous support of the Graham Foundation for the Advanced Studies in Fine Arts, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.