UrbanGlass: Carly Mandel - Premium (Opening Reception)
Curated by Kerry Doran.
For her solo exhibition at UrbanGlass, Carly Mandel presents a body of work that reclaims traumas induced by privatized healthcare and the consumer wellness industry. In our deeply entrenched and enculturated life with neoliberal capitalism, it is reinforced that individuals are responsible for themselves and their well-being, even though all of our bodies will inevitably fail us.
The rise of “self care” alongside the contemporary “healthcare” debate is no coincidence. As state-subsidized healthcare in the United States is threatened, especially during this election year, wellness products and experiences burgeon; with sound baths, meditation retreats, Impossible meat products, or the latest Goop trends being among the most au courant. Consumers are encouraged to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” so to speak, through their purchasing power, which in turn, is directly related to their profitability as workers. Those who are able-bodied or unaffected by chronic illness are those who are more likely to be privately insured by their employers, while at the same time having more capital to spend on wellness.
Similar to socially reinforced ideologies of labor and productivity, wellness products operate from the mythology that earning more (and consuming more) will be the key to unlocking one’s true potential. At the same time, this ethos disguises or shames those who are monetarily or physically unable to participate in consumer-driven wellness culture, which is actually sick. It tells us that our well-being and life itself has a high, if not unattainable, price.
Within the installation are new glass, ceramic, and metal works that borrow forms from or re-represent massage devices, grab bars, jump ropes, hula hoops, medical ID bracelets, and sharps containers, referencing Mandel’s personal narratives of physical therapy and disability.