Kunsthall Stavanger is proud to present the exhibition HURTS WORST by Amanda Ross-Ho.
In 1981, two American paediatric nurses working in a burn unit identified the need for a visual tool to help pre-verbal children accurately describe the complex sensation of pain. The result was the Pain Rating Scale, consisting of a series of expressive cartoon facial ideograms with an accompanying numerical system and text in multiple languages. Forebears of the omnipresent emoji invented in 1999, the success of the first pain scale begat countless nonproprietary variations, slipping into widespread usage at medical facilities. Claiming stylistic liberty, each version aimed to create a universal metric to measure human suffering, factoring in diverse perspectives of generation, culture, and ability.
HURTS WORST mines this database, isolating the faces that represent the extreme end of twelve different pain scales. Like Tragedies permanently divorced from their better half, these flat graphic depictions are translated into large scale, wall bound textile assemblages, gathered together into an ensemble of misery and all its company. Hand hewn with collage-like techniques of frenetic needlecraft, each soft wall hanging teeters between the index of its crisp graphic origin and its anxiously tactile decoy. Vulnerable, frayed, and cranked to 11, they intone a choral sob tuned to acutely describe the anguish of a universal and perpetually raw nerve.
Los Angeles based Amanda Ross-Ho has spent more than a decade performing conceptual and material forensics that wrestle with the entwined ecologies of personal and universal phenomena. Borrowing from muscle memory of formative experiences in stagecraft, prop making, photography and performance, she cultivates an ongoing vocabulary of theatrical gestures and recursive experimentation. Ross-Ho surgically parses the currencies of matter, human experience, and cultural strata, shifting the status of known quantities and rearranging the DNA of our circadian experiences. On her watch, ephemeral artifacts convert into monuments and permanence becomes fugitive and uncertain. Like autopsies or historical reenactments, her work disarticulates anatomies of established structures, reanimating them to hyperbolic effect.
Amanda Ross-Ho (b. Chicago, Illinois, 1975. Lives and works in Los Angeles) holds a BFA from the School of the Art institute of Chicago and an MFA from the Roski School of Art, University of Southern California. She has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally. Selected solo exhibitions include ‘MY PEN IS HUGE’, Mitchell-Innes and Nash, New York; Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; ‘Untitled Period Piece’, Tramway, Glasgow (all 2017); ‘Untitled Period Piece’, De Vleeshal Center for Contemporary Art, Middelburg, The Netherlands (2016); ‘How To Remove Dark Spots’, Praz-Delavallade, Paris (2015); ‘Who Buries Who’, The Approach, London (2014); ’CRADLE OF FILTH’, Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago (2013); ‘Teeny Tiny Woman’, The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (2012); ‘Untitled Nothing Factory’, Visual Arts Center, University of Texas, Austin (2011); ‘A Stack of Black Pants’, Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles; ‘Project Series 40’, The Pomona Museum of Art (both 2010); and ‘Untitled Event’, Hoet Bekaert Gallery, Ghent (2007).
Selected group exhibitions include ‘Curve of a hill like the curve of a green shoulder’, Mary Mary, Glasgow (2017); ’Ordinary Pictures’, The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2016) ‘Pairings: The Collection at 50′, The Orange County Museum of Art (2012); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2011); ‘Image Transfer’, The Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; ‘Free’ The New Museum, New York; ‘New Photography’, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; ‘Production Site: The Artist’s Studio Inside and Out’, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (all 2010); ‘George Herms: Xenophillia (Love of the Unknown)’; ‘Wall Works’ The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (both 2009); The 2008 Whitney Biennial; and ‘Nina in Position’, Artists Space, New York (both 2008).
Public commissions include ‘Untitled Findings (ACCESS)’ Parcours, Art Basel, Switzerland (2017); The Public Art Fund, City Hall Park, New York (2015); and ‘THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS’, Plaza Project, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2014). Ross-Ho’s work has been featured in Artforum, The New York Times, Art Review, Modern Painters, Art in America, Flash Art, Art + Auction, and Frieze among others. She is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the University of California, Irvine.