Olivia Locher: I Fought the Law
Exhibition: September 14 – October 21, 2017
Steven Kasher Gallery presents Olivia Locher: I Fought the Law, an exhibition of photographs breaking an eccentric law from each of the 50 States of the Union. Locher’s photographs take on the tangle of our pork-belly, dairy-lobby, male-anxiety, sex-obsessed legislation. Her quirky illustrations of America’s most unusual laws will make both Dems and Repubs roll in the aisles. Has Olivia Locher built the bridges that can span our red-blue political chasm?
This is the artist’s first New York solo exhibition and launches the publication of her first monograph, Olivia Locher: I Fought the Law (Chronicle Books, September 2017) with a foreword by poet Kenneth Goldsmith and an interview of Locher by Eric Shiner, former director of the Andy Warhol Museum. The images in I Fought the Law were created between June 2013 and June 2016 at Locher’s studio in New York and in her hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
Sometimes confrontational and often hilarious, Locher’s photographs are acts of civil disobedience. Though her images give these statutes a satirical spin, the project raises a more serious point about politics and social conventions. It points to the hundreds of decisions big and small made every year by local and state lawmakers. It asks us to ponder why riding a bike in a swimming pool was made illegal in California. What emergency made it illegal to doff one’s shirt in front of a portrait of a man in Ohio? Wine can’t be served in teacups in Kansas. Is that the work of the work of the powerful Kansas wine lobby? Why must pickles pass a bounce test in Connecticut?” In the case of Massachusetts' ban on upskirt photos, the law was sparked by a serious concern. But when Mesquite, Texas institutes a ban on children wearing unusual haircuts to uphold the community’s standards of decency, we are forced to ask who decides what is decent, to whom do the standard’s apply, and how are they enforced?
Locher writes, “The work you are about to experience depicts America’s most unusual laws. Several of them remain on the statute books, the majority of them were at one point removed, others never became laws (but came close!) and a few of them are complete myths.”