Barrister's Gallery, New Orleans, outsider art, visionary art
2331 St. Claude Ave and Spain, New Orleans, LA 70117  • 
504- 710-4506   •  Tues-Sat 11am-5pm  • Directions













2331 St. Claude Ave & Spain
New Orleans, LA 70117  504-710-4506 
Tues-Sat 11am-5pm



Go to scadnola.com
for more events
on St Claude Ave.

Feb.12th - Mar.5, 2011

Aaron McNamee
Nina Schwanse

Curator's Statement

The exhibition title ‘Classified’ is intended to conjure up a few thoughts at once. Classified advertisements, those short cryptic ads in the back of handout newspapers announce all kinds of unusual things. I read them when I have time to kill waiting for an oil change. I even circle the vintage pinball machine or free puppies I shouldn’t pass up on, but never call. I suspect many join me in the guilty pleasure of decoding the provocative personals in the back of newspapers. LD, LIB, GSOH would be a light drinking, Libra with a (self proclaimed) good sense of humor. Another classified pertains to top-secret information. As a kid it was the stuff of cold war spy thrillers but now, thanks to that WikiLeaks dude Jullian Assange, I search for it on-line. Scientific classification from the age of Charles Darwin was yet another direction. It seems art history classified art like a 19th century naturalist, locating it broadly at first and then narrowing it down from phylum to genus to species. Thankfully we have artists like Aaron McNamee and Nina Schwanse who are still searching for that aesthetic Sasquatch and Loch Ness Monster, artists that labor at an apparent fools’ venture only to prove us all wrong and show us something wonderful we were confident did not exist.


Aaron McNamee and Nina Schwanse’s exhibition ‘Classified’ offers an unexpected aesthetic pairing with surprising consistencies that hide just below the surface. They both present us with laborious process, ritualistic performance and a provocative but logical resultant. 


One entire and complete year of the Times Picayune newspaper has been fastidiously glued together and is presented standing on edge. Page by page, each of the 4,196 sheets of uniquely printed but ordinary daily newspaper has been hand laminated into a monumental 400-pound block of cellulose, ink and glue. McNamee presents us with a wonderful contradiction of physicality. That wispy and weightless act of licking your fingertip and effortlessly turning each page of your morning newspaper is transformed, through the painstaking repetition of gluing and clamping, into an unexpected juggernaut.



No longer separate individual leaves we are only reminded by the feathery uneven edges of what once was. Even the images and text of the first and last page have been blurred to deny any specific information of the now old news. The accompanying stop motion video of the process is also unreadable as the stack of paper grows at 24 paper-thin sheets per second until one year has passed. Aaron’s rapid-fire video shows us his process, but unlike a magician revealing his secret and ruining an illusion, this behind the scene glimpse reinforces the artist’s goal, as we are now certain that a formidable physical sculpture can appear, albeit only microns at a time, out of thin air.


Nina presents a one-year calendar as well and although both artists embrace performance and process, Aaron remains the sculptor and Nina remains the painter.


Twelve theatrical, sassy and self-aware female personalities manifest in BabeRental.com. A web based artwork that spills into the gallery that has become a cross media installation of video, photography, printed, matter and expressive painting. First we get BabeRental.com, a functioning website of an imaginary girlfriend service with Ms. Schwanse provocatively disguised to perform all of the various escort service archetypes that a-guy-I-know-told-me are popular on the internet. The gallery floor is covered with thousands of cheaply printed escort business cards (Marketing Strategy No.1) of all the characters we met at BabeRental.com. The flimsy cards seem the kind you might find behind the seat of a rented limousine in Vegas. Those same twelve characters reappear on a large wall hidden between that distinct field of ‘green screen’ green and a lot of expressive mostly white paint (Marketing Strategy No.3). Nina is always playing with gender identity and art historical representation. The predominantly male AbEx mark making of the 1950’s is still a visceral gesture but now it is clearly intended as evidence of an exaggerated ejaculation. The white oozing paint makes its maleness clear but it is the splattered nail-polish-red paint, which is clearly not violent blood but rather a sickeningly-sweet-as-candy hue that keeps the gender dialogue fresh.


The Squirting video brings it all together and like the supporting elements in Aaron’s installation the more the merrier. ‘Squirting’ boils it all down to the female pose with gaze returned. Here we get the complexity of women in advertising; but now the body and image are obliterated thru the mock male gesture of a never-ending ‘green screen’ ejaculation. The subject erases herself as she provocatively shoots a kind of visual antimatter into her face and all over her body. The performer is thepainter and the canvas, but rather than additive her process is subtractive until she vanishes, like magic.


Mcnamee's newspaper monoliths make something out of nothing while Schwanse has found a way to do the opposite and to un-paint herself from the image until the subject itself vanishes, literally making nothing out of something.

Christopher Saucedo
Chairperson and Research Professor,

Department of Fine Arts, University of New Orleans