Elizabeth Harney: With This Love, We Protect Your Wealth
At the Border Project Space
Curated by Jamie Martinez
June 19 – July 3, 2021
Opening night June 19, 2021 from 6 – 8:30 pm
Intimacy is vulnerability (risk of rejection) + safety (acceptance) = bond (intimacy).
Bonds are units of circulating debt
Debt begins at birth as life-debt
Currency is a representation of life-debt
Hate is an unbearable bond
Love is service to a bond, often creates surplus
Hierarchical economy – surplus from love is hoarded by a few
The Border Project Space is pleased to present With This Love, We Protect Your Wealth, a solo exhibition with an installation and video created by Elizabeth Harney curated by Jamie Martinez.
Elizabeth’s works interrogate the hyper-commodification and romanticization of “the hero”: an archetype that bolsters the narrative of self-sacrifice for the greater good. Her works reveal the reality of domestication and control embedded within this paradigm by deglamorizing and reinterpreting the fantasy of “the hero.” Her use of veg-tan leather and calf hide structures, a material that resembles supple skin, represents the “violence inherent in domestication.”
In the video Hero Baby, a young man’s face is molded like dough, subservient to the control of an older man who aggressively manipulates the interlocutor’s expression while eerily singing the romantic pop song Hero by Enrique Iglesias. Despite the forceful treatment of the younger man’s face, his skin maintains its buoyancy—a reference to the veg-tan leather and the resilience of youthful skin.
The leather sandbags of the installation We No Longer Need to Think of What to Do With Life are composed in an infantry-line formation and confront the viewer with a protective and defensive stance. In the forefront is an opened, grotty bag that Elizabeth refers to as “Old Salty” [Old Salty is a term of endearment for someone who served in the military for many years]. The bag has lost its “freshness” and stands vulnerable in front of the pack. Imprinted on the inner skin: “we no longer need to think of what to do with life.”
Sanctioned, made from veg-tan calf hide with screen printing bleach, portrays iconography influenced by US military and police training materials. The cheeky piece reflects the psychology of sanctioned killing, providing the justification and motivation to obey and kill for “the good of the collective.”
Elizabeth Harney moved to New York City in 2013. While she investigated the phantom line between aggression and protection through her art, she was navigating the taboo space between intimacy and economy as a sex worker. As she explored the differences between sex work and marriage, and mercenaries and militaries, she found that the taboo and intimate spheres of sex and violence were factitiously separated from economy through romantic notions of self sacrifice for the greater good, i.e. country and family. This realization led to her most recent body of work which aims to re-imagine and deglamorize the fantasy of the “hero” by bringing a focus to its commodifiable value.
Elizabeth received her BFA from New Jersey City University in 2013. In 2014, she was a participant at Skowhegan School of Painting and Drawing, and she participated in SOMA Summer in Mexico City in 2017. Elizabeth received her MFA at Hunter College in 2019 and is currently a Key Holder at the Lower East Side Printshop in New York.