Mario Ybarra Jr. will present a multi-media installation entitled The Black Squirrel Society for his first exhibition in New York at Lehmann Maupin's 201 Chrystie Street gallery. In Ybarra Jr's artistic practice, he consistently explores the space between what is the norm and taboo in American culture from a particularly Mexican-American perspective. Bordering on the absurd at times, he continues to explore the conflation of social spaces and interactions whether imagined or real.
Similar in organization to the Freemasonry or other secret social clubs, The Black Squirrel Society is a makeshift lodge for an order who's principles, practices and institutions include black squirrels in all sectors of society passing normal rites and passages of everyday life. Included in the installation are commemorative banners of battles won or lost by black squirrels; music in praise of black squirrels; memorabilia including t-shirts, drawings and posters; and action figures based on their various occupations. Ybarra, Jr. has created a cosmos of black squirrels that co-exist among us and that will live on as The Black Squirrel Society gathers every few years in different locations around the country, gathering momentum with each assembly. Not dissimilar to the installation The Peacock Doesn't See Its Own Ass/Let's Twitch Again: Operation Bird Watching in London (2006), which he did for the Serpentine Gallery in London, the artist created a bird club filled with stuffed birds, found objects, museum artifacts, and corporate designs based on an excavation of the local "birdlife" on the model of Marcel Broodthaers's ersatz Musée d'Art Moderne, Département des Aigles (1968).
Mario Ybarra Jr. lives and works in Los Angeles. He received his MFA from the University of California, Irvine and is a founding member of the artist's collective Slanguage. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions, including Uncertain States of America, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, The World as a Stage, curated by Jessica Morgan at the Tate Modern, London, and the Prague Biennial 3 in the Czech Republic. Most recently his work he was included in the Whitney Biennial 2008, Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and a solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago opened this summer.
The exhibition will be on view from 24 June through 8 August 2008. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10AM – 6PM. Summer gallery hours begin after 4 July, Tuesday – Friday 10AM – 6PM.