Leila Heller present ‘Land of Honey’ curated by Emann Odufu, open in New York, and featuring the work of Nancy Baker Cahill, William Buchina, Melis Buyruk, Naeemeh Kazemi, Tim Kent, Chelsea Odufu, and Samuel Stabler.
Naeemeh Kazemi, Untitled (La La Land Series), 2023. Oil on canvas, 150 x 160cm. Courtesy of the artist and Leila Heller.
‘Land of Honey’ is a show focused on ideas that are commodified and then sold to the general population about what it means to be a human in modern society. The title stems from the biblical term “Land of Milk and Honey”. The idea of sold fantasies is tracked through many disparate threads across the works of the show’s artists. The title references the ever-elusive land of honey, opportunities, and abundance that the US and many other destinations across the Americas were described as to European immigrants in the early 1900s. However, this connection can also be jettisoned into the present day, where a new generation of immigrants are emigrating to places around the world like New York City or, in more current times, commercial centers such as Dubai, chasing this ever-elusive land of honey and the symbols of prosperity associated with them.
The idea of dreams sold to maintain our society and the sometimes-illusory promise of abundance and prosperity associated with them is at the show’s core. Each of the artworks in the exhibition exists within the spectacle of this collective dream of the modern human experience, participating in it yet being aware of the limitations and dangers of participating only from within this limited framework. In various ways, the artists in the show are mirroring the conditions of present times but using some form of abstraction or manipulation of material, whether conceptual or physical, digital or analog, to pierce the veil of this dream state into territories that are less easy to discuss in today’s society.
Emann Odufu is a filmmaker, art and culture critic and curator. Born and raised in Newark, NJ, but of Guyanese and Nigerian descent, he aims to make fine art accessible to demographics typically excluded from conversations about fine art. Over the past decade, by pursuing creative endeavours in film, working in the studio of fine artist Hank Willis Thomas, and being exposed to the national infrastructure of art institutions and organisations, he has developed a unique perspective on art’s role for contemporary society. Most recently, Emann has curated a solo show of German contemporary artist Anselm Reyle at MoCA Westport. Last year he curated a solo show of artist Samuel Stabler at the National Arts Club in NYC.
The exhibition will be on view from the 5th of May until the 3rd of June, 2023. For more information, please visit Leila Heller.