Selected works by Jade Townsend

Jade Townsend
Cash Cow


Mixed media

236.2 x 177.8 x 45.7 cm


Nov 2007, by Sean Smuda, mn artists

Sean Smuda provides a provocative deconstruction of Jade Townsend's recent installation at the up-and-coming ART OF THIS gallery. Read his take on it, and you'll never look at Mom the same way again
ART OF THIS has a fondness for abjection*, and Born Between Piss and Shit has that. Jade Townsend’s piece serves as an effective illustration of philosopher Julia Kristeva’s theory on the entanglement of the abject with creating an identity for oneself. As Kristeva defines it, the abject is: “that which exists in between the concept of an object and the concept of the subject, something alive yet not.” The act of “…selfing...must abject the maternal, the object which has created us, in order to construct an identity”.

In the case of Born Between Piss and Shit, those things which exist between the subject and the object are ropes. Three faceless mannequins are using them to pull apart the walls of a house. Another has escaped, evidenced by one more umbilical/rope slung out a broken window which is projected away from the house. If the faceless, genderless mannequins are offspring, the mother is a giant golden egg which is suspended dead-center inside the “play”-sized house. Underneath her is a pile of glow-in-the-dark stars which have fallen from the ceiling: childhood’s protection and artifice, downed by the attempt to pull it apart.

This paradigm of the disillusionment of leaving home resonates poetically: we shouldn’t pull it apart, we should simply leave. But, what about dear old ma? Two grunge-style mannequins with long black hair, plaid shirts, and work pants pull out gill-like openings in the house. Another, this one business-suited, is wrapped by a rope that has broken; he has collapsed opposite the escape window. “Mom” needs her workers to maintain the home that they have not chosen to leave. Entrapment is the opposite of escape, and here the captivity is symbiotic. The remaining “offspring” work for her until they drop; and one wonders if she’ll throw out the ones who won’t or can’t work any longer.


May 2012, Art Daily

NEW YORK, NY.- Jade Townsend’s new body of work, Leviathan, assembles an absurd and fragmented narrative. As told by an amalgam of outcasts – the rebel, the orphan, the mystic – a coalescing set of stories manifests as a sculptural passageway through which to pass and return. Similar to his past mixed media sculptures and installations that critique and intensify tragic sociopolitical realities, Leviathan layers multiple myths and allegories, along with their archetypal characters, to pursue the conflicting destinations of contentment and rebellion. Whether or not such a goal is achievable is of little concern. Rather, as Townsend has continued exorcise in his work, it is the failure to see what is given up as we seek what we wish to gain.

“Now, from this peculiar sideway position of the whale's eyes, it is plain that he can never see an object which is exactly ahead, no more than he can one exactly astern.” Moby Dick


2009, by Damien Cave, NY Times

His satirical vision, and that of his collaborator, Jade Townsend: the flashy Art Basel fair as a Hooverville. Soup lines crammed with artists and gallery owners in chunky glasses, curators dressed like prostitutes selling their expertise for $50 a trick — all in the parking lot outside the fortresslike Miami Beach Convention Center, where the main fair takes place and where the richest galleries and artists tend to show.
“The bubble never burst, it just got smaller,” Mr. Powhida, 33, said, standing over the poster-size drawing. “For the people on the outside the oxygen ran out.”
Put another way, he said, “this is about how out of touch the art world is with economic reality.”
Income disparities and class, many in the art world say, are subjects that get short shrift in the contemporary art represented at shows like this one, which cater largely to rich collectors. Over the last two years the Great Recession has seemed almost entirely absent from the thousands of works at Art Basel Miami Beach and most of its offshoots. With a few exceptions — usually art depicting consumerism or the dollar in various forms — the largest economic shock in decades and its fallout seem to have gotten little play at the nation’s most comprehensive contemporary art extravaganza.


by Christopher Howard, Artforum

“Art about art” has spawned a subgenre, “art about the art world.” With an overwhelming focus on New York, this exhibition, curated by Eric Doeringer, an artist who sells his work (devotional-size paintings in the styles of superstars like Elizabeth Peyton and Julian Opie) on Chelsea streets, corrals twenty-one contributors disenchanted, in varying degrees, with the art-world establishment—meaning mostly high-powered museums and galleries but also the general production of art history. Ward Shelley’s painting Matrilineage Ver. 1, 2007, a time line that arranges previously overlooked women artists, and Jennifer Dalton’s How Do Artists Live, 2006, a slide-show of hand-drawn charts from a survey of artists’ incomes, dutifully emphasize lingering gender inequity. These works’ factual approach, though, lacks the visual intensity and in-depth research of Shelley’s Carolee Schneemann Chart, 2006, which establishes the feminist artist’s larger influence on postwar art, or the ironic humor of Dead Write, 2010, a painting by Loren Munk that segregates, over a Manhattan map, the names and addresses of artists who committed suicide or died of drug overdoses and those of (mostly living) critics. While Munk intentionally fails to establish connections, the idea that words matter reverberates throughout this text-heavy show.
Pablo Helguera fosters openness with a monthly Q&A newsletter, The Esthetiscist, 2010–2011, which demystifies art-world machinations, but Jade Townsend and William Powhida’s digital print Art Basel Miami Beach Hooverville, 2010, depicting a ravaged tent city of art-fair insiders and outsiders, feels clubby all around. Powhida’s critique of a narcissistic art world is sharper in a short video starring his eponymous train-wreck artist persona. Straightforward appropriation pieces—including Nancy Drew’s outlandish flock-and-glitter reworkings of Mondrian and Gorky paintings and Aneta Grzeszykowska’s six excellent color photographs from a series that restages every Cindy Sherman “Untitled Film Still”—stray from the exhibition’s theme. Conrad Bakker’s carved and painted wooden replicas of ten Artforum covers from September 1969 to June 1970, however, hit the mark as they recall a time when critics perceived themselves as actively writing art history—a position of power that the art market holds now.