Tracey Snelling: Clusterf*ck 9
June 22, 2019 – September 15, 2019
In his book, In Praise of Profanity, historian Michael Adams attempts to demystify the origin of the word “clusterfuck.” Adams uncovers the word’s military etymology in a published war diary from 1969, used as an expression similar to snafu. In the same year, the word appears in a book about the emergence of married couples swinging. As Adams continues his research, he finds the appearance of the word countless times, even used in Europe as a term to describe a group of ineffective people. Unconvinced as to the certainty of the term’s definition and origin, Adams ends his inquiry by stating “stuck on the cut and carat of a single word among the heaps of lexical treasures stored up in compendious dictionaries of slang – we agreed that it’s a gem.”
The gem – Clusterfuck – situates itself perfectly as the title of Berlin-based artist Tracey Snelling’s site-specific installation series. An expression so chaotic and riddled with diverse meanings serves to express the hodgepodge of sculptures, video projections, lights, rugs, kitsch, and eclectic accessories throughout Snelling’s installation. “Clusterfuck,” borrowed and appropriated across time and cultures, captures Snelling’s ability to transport viewers to a foreign world. The cacophony of imagery places the viewer at the conjunction of different, sometimes opposing cultures.
The clashing of cultures in Clusterfuck 9, along with the over-stimulating and ensnaring qualities of Snelling’s installation leave one with the uncomfortable feeling of entering into strangers’ lives and wondering: who are these people? Snelling’s work is derived from voyeurism, film noir, and location. Her meticulously detailed miniature sculptures of storefronts, bedrooms, and interior spaces encourage the viewer to silently spy on the activities of this imaginary locale. She explains, “I am not trying to replicate a place; rather I give my impression of a place, its people and their experience, and allow the viewer to extrapolate their own meaning.”
Tracey Snelling has had solo exhibitions throughout the United States as well as in China, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, and Italy. She received the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant, was awarded a fellowship at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan, and completed permanent sculptural commissions at the Historisches Museum Frankfurt and Facebook offices in California. Her work is held in numerous public and private collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; the Margulies Collection, Miami, FL; the West Collection, Oaks, PA; and 21c Museum, Louisville, KY. Snelling exhibited major installations at the Havana and Venice Biennales this year.
Tracey Snelling: Clusterfuck 9 is part of the ongoing series of ICA Sandbox Projects. The distinctive Sandbox Projects support artists to experiment, take risks, and create immersive, site-specific installations that would not otherwise be realized.
Tracey Snelling: Clusterfuck 9 is supported in part by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.