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  MARC SWANSON Live Free or Die
  Marc Swanson
Opening: Friday September 5  
from 8-10pm
September 5 � October 6

335 Grand Street
Brooklyn NY 11211

Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon,
12-6pm and by appointment
Map & Directions

*Virtual Exhibition
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September 5-October 6, 2003

"Live Free or Die," the New Hampshire state slogan was coined by General John Stark, on July 31, 1809. 160 years later to the day, Marc Swanson was born: a liberal among conservatives, a Unitarian among Catholics, a queer among straights, an artist among jocks and rednecks. A childhood and adolescence spent disconnected from the culture around him, Marc sublimated his state motto into a personal manifesto. By exploring the notion that death is better than not living free, Marc investigates extinction, time, memorial and funerary practices, creating a visual representation of a eulogy.

In this, Marc's second solo show at Bellwether, the gallery's storefront has been transformed into a glittery black forest. This revisited tableau, a charming forest scene recurrent in Marc's work, is now charred, seeming as if it has been burned in an attempt to clear away the past and reclaim new territory for the future. This dark passageway introduces one of the show's central themes: deaths' potential to renew life.

The next space features a ten-foot rainbow bull's eye. Painted directly on the wall, this reflected double arch is a portrait of a rainbow in full, referring simultaneously to hunting, gay pride, romantic narcissism, Jasper Johns, and all manner of targets. Rainbowed logs are placed on the floor like skewed directional tools; modernist tropes skinned of their sterility and made personal. Graphic, abstracted black lines fall from the ceiling, pulling apart and coming together; they are reminiscent of dark matter and the space between death and rebirth. A peacock sits atop a plexi-glass sculpture/coffin/booth where the joke among physicists: "Time is nature's way of preventing everything from happening all at once," curls like a helix in the scratchy parlance of subway graffiti. In folklore, the peacock is the gatekeeper to next world, the deliverer of the soul, a totem that wards off death; in a lighter view, the peacock is the dandy of the bird-world.

In the womb-like inner room, stands a pregnant grim reaper, a simultaneous symbol of life and death, shameless in its attempt at black humor and profundity. A tribute to the "Old Man on the Mountain," New Hampshire's beloved man shaped monument whose profile recently crumbled back into anonymity, presides over the space in memoriam. A sculpted man wearing a full body cast is hung from the ceiling in suspended animation. Words scrawled on the surface mimic plaster cast graffiti as if draw from the inside out. Black nets hang from the ceiling like a web, a trap or means of escape.

Lastly, two sequined buck mounts hang mid-antler clash, like warped macho trophies from a fabulous disco hunting lodge. This piece is a celebratory and erotic memory of a childhood spent in the dominant and masculine world of White Mountain deer hunters.

Collages and t-shirts are scattered throughout the gallery combining with the other elements to create a patched piecework that feels like a roadside museum or fraternal lodge. Marc's installation combines embedded symbolism, disparate components and personal lore in a way that is touching, humorous, profound and fabulous.

Marc Swanson holds a MFA from Bard College. He attended Skowhegan School of Art and was an artist in residence at IASPIS in Stockholm. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.