Commonwealth and Council

Exiting the Death Star

Suzanne Wright


Commonwealth & Council continues to offer a platform for oft-marginalized artistic perspectives with Exiting the Death Star, Suzanne Wright’s first solo exhibition with the space. 

Wright’s practice employs a restrained, tongue-in-cheek dialect of the distinctive visual language of 1970s fine art and pop culture; as seen in her large-scale drawings and photo collages merging female porn actors with products of industry and engineering (i.e. dams, bridges, tunnels, and airplanes) and in the graphic portal series where an unseen force burrows through colorful concentric rings into walls or plywood. The fantastical, anything-is-possible psychology that was born in the 1960s and emerged fully-formed in the 1970s, is evident in Wright’s drawings and sculptures – literally as well as conceptually – especially in those that reference that great filmic cultural unifier, Star Wars. Wright tempers the kitschy-ness of anything appropriated from Star Wars by filtering it through her decidedly queer/feminist political perspective: science fiction machinery is rendered in rainbow colors and the Death Star appears as a Rorschach-ed version of the Mormon temple in San Diego, CA (a critique, no doubt, of the organization’s role in passing Prop 8).

 In Wright’s previous works, the politics of the female body occupy or displace physical space in the pictorial and sculptural planes, while the work in Exiting the Death Star surrenders its ties to direct representation in favor of an implied and boundless feminine form. A large work on paper depicts the view Luke Skywalker witnessed from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon as he fled the exploding Death Star. Based on past precedence in Wright’s oeuvre, when Luke (or the viewer) emerges from that narrow passageway he can expect to encounter an ever-expanding cosmic body that is definitively female. Though the female body does not materialize in this drawing, Wright suggests its presence with such force that one can’t help but sense the femininity of Luke’s destination as well as the actual woman from whom he originated. Exiting the Death Star also introduces a new group of interactive sculptures that serves as Yang to the portal series’ Yin. The cultural influence of the 1970s is unmistakable in these works: fields, on both the floor and ceiling, of odd flowers with metal rods for stems and miniature disco balls instead of blossoms. Unlike the portals, the conceptual meat of these works is readily accessible as the viewer navigates the fields and is dazzled by reflected light and his or her own visage multiplied a hundred times over by tiny little mirrors. 

Suzanne Wright is a Los Angeles-based artist. She earned a BFA in Sculpture at Cooper Union, New York, NY (1990), attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, NY (2004), and received a MFA from UCSD, San Diego, CA (2010). Wright has recently had solo exhibitions at Darin Klein and Friends, Los Angeles, CA; Monya Rowe Gallery, New York, NY; Church and Maple Gallery, Burlington, VT; and White Columns, New York, NY. Selected group exhibitions include Tilt Shift LA at Luis De Jesus, Los Angeles, CA; San Diego NOW at Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside, CA; and The Last Time They Met, curated by Catherine Opie at Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, UK. Wright was a co-founder of Fierce Pussy and member of ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) and D.I.V.A. TV (Damned Interfering Video Activists).