2010, by Catherine Kron, Art in America
In "While the Light Lasts," Josh Faught's New York solo debut, the artist mines textile's homespun origins, employing traditional craft techniques like crochet, loom weaving and ikat, and working with raw fibers. Referencing the queer and feminist deployment of traditionally domestic crafts during the 70's and after, Faught's sculpture undercuts the memory of revelatory political agency with a meditation on contemporary anxiety.
The works are displayed on freestanding armatures or else hung from four-by-six-foot linen canvases, such that the textiles resemble garments draped over mannequins. Both armature and frame support create the effect of frontality, even as their technique and orientation nudges them toward sculpture. The afghan-like Signs of Life (all works, 2009) wraps around its support to reveal a crocheted brown backside, alluding to the unseen back of the stretched canvas.
Asymmetrically but methodically composed, Faught's textiles appear to have accrued in a piecemeal fashion. To the surface he's appended labels, nail polish and sequins, all materials culled from the purview of the amateur crafter. Attached to Claiming What's Yours, a flyer presumably stripped from some coffee shop bulletin board asks, "Overwhelmed?" and offers tear-off contact numbers for assistance. A strip of ribbons screen-printed with the repeated phrase "MY BAG-MY BAG..." etc, presents a competing voice vying for the piece's (and the viewer's) attention. If one allows the claim which interprets these works as "characters," their signage might point to the multiple agendas a single character juggles. Both Claiming What's Yours and Claiming What's Not Yours are presented on stretcher bars, and both employ these iterative ribbons. In Claiming What's Not Yours a series of ribbons bearing the phrase "NOT YOUR BAGâ€”NOT YOUR BAG ..." is cleverly ensconced between crocheted swatches, which graft onto each other such that the vertical strip is stitched into an awkward bowed curve, its text muffled in the now primarily graphic impression the fabric affords. The patchwork-like House Plant's upbeat gay pride-themed buttons proclaim a nostalgic "anything goes" attitude, but these works reveal deeper-seated worries over money, the future, and keeping things together.
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JOSH FAUGHT: BE BOLD FOR WHAT YOU STAND FOR, BE CAREFUL FOR WHAT YOU FALL FOR
Mining rich histories of craft, Josh Faught creates sculptures that pair traditional textile and homespun techniques, such as loom-weaving, knitting, and crocheting, with everyday objects that reference domesticity and often feature political slogans and elements of kitsch. His assemblages typically start with raw fibers that he hand dyes with organic materials, such as ground-up cochineal bugs, or covers with artificial substances like spray paint or nail polish. His labor-intensive sculptures draw on histories of gender and sexual politics, precariously balancing an urgent sense of anxiety with a nostalgic view of the present.
Faught's BE BOLD For What You Stand For, BE CAREFUL For What You Fall For (2013), a constellation of handwoven sculptures, responds to the historical importance and emotional resonance of the Neptune Society Columbarium, a repository for cremation urns in San Francisco's Inner Richmond neighborhood. Housed in a 19th-century neoclassical building, it is the only nondenominational cemetery within city limits and is home to more than 8,000 inurnment niches. It is the final resting place for many generations of San Franciscans, including cultural figures, artists, and other notable residents. Faught, based in San Francisco, is particularly interested in the ways that the Columbarium reflects the historical presence of the queer community. His installation is inspired by the visual language of the memorials that pay tribute to the deceased. These often include flowers and photographs augmented by holiday decorations, personal items, and lighthearted knickknacks. Incorporating similar sentiments of remembrance and humor, his sculptures are embellished with objects such as plastic snacks, activist buttons, and greeting cards. For the artist, these materials represent forms of emotional support.
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