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Cameron Jamie

Cameron Jamie’s first New York solo exhibition looked back to medieval Austria, centering on 11 ornately gro­tesque wooden masks reminiscent of those worn, to this day, by villag­ers channeling Krampus (a kind of anti-Santa Claus) and his band of demons, who in December street revels sometimes playfully whip those—par­ticularly children and attractive young women—alleged to have been “naugh­ty.” Collectively titled Smiling Disease (2008), the works also reference Perchten,festival masks that devo­tees of the ancient Germanic goddess Perchta once used to ward off evil spir­its. The sculptural disguises, which the artist commissioned from an Austrian carver, are gnarled and fleshy-looking, with matted, shaggy fur from various animals serving as hair. The toothy, painfully wrought faces are delicately assembled and smile, seeming to relish the irony of their elegant abjection. Each mounted on a single bare tree branch stuck in a flat-cut section of log to form a pedestal, they were shown in a rough circle, as if conferring among them­selves or conspiring with any viewer who dared to step into the center....

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