EXCLUSIVE: Artist Ellen Gallagher recounts her childhood obsession with projecting films, paired with documentation of her work Murmur (2003–04) installed at Gagosian Gallery in New York.
Repetition and revision are central to Ellen Gallagher’s treatment of advertisements appropriated from popular magazines. Initially, Gallagher was drawn to the wig advertisements because of their grid-like structure. Later she realized that it was the accompanying language that attracted her, and she began to bring these ‘narratives’ into her paintings—making them function through the characters of the advertisements as a kind of chart of lost worlds. Upon closer inspection, googly eyes, reconfigured wigs, tongues, and lips of minstrel caricatures multiply in detail. Although her work has often been interpreted as an examination of race, Gallagher also suggests a more formal reading—from afar the work appears abstract and minimal, and employs grids as both structure and metaphors for experience.