The Twelfth Man
Patrick McDonough and Kenny George
June 12 – July 12, 2009
Opening Reception: June 12, 7-9 pm
Gallery Talk: July 12, 5-7 pm
In the game of American football eleven players take the field. For those familiar with football colloquialisms, the phrase The Twelfth Man refers to the collectivity of the crowd and the fans’ emotional investment in the action. In the context of this art exhibition, the title The Twelfth Man carries connotations of spectatorship and serves as an introduction into the artistic reconsideration of fandom, achievement, play, and new-age masculinity presented by Kenny George and Patrick McDonough. Seen together in this installation, the selected works challenge the marginalization of the individual fan, and re-establish recreational outlet as a valuable and creative, albeit problematic, social act. Utilizing model cars, super-soakers, pogo-sticks, stilts and video games as instruments of artistic expression, George and McDonough address alternative mythologies of play and maleness through varying degrees of agency that offer compelling recapitulations of boyhood informed by the development of a virtual, cyber world, as well as humorous respite from the mundane obstacles of adult life.
The Twelfth Man marks George and McDonough’s first public collaboration. Before crossing paths as students in the MFA program at The George Washington University, George and McDonough completed BA’s at the University of Akron, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, respectively. George currently works in several mediums, including photography, lenticular flip animation, interactive video, and video games, while McDonough’s craft is much more hands-on, often employing embroidery, collage and painting within a single object. Although each artist’s work appears disparate in medium, scale and material, the confrontation of unnecessary obstacles—the essence of any game—links the two in intention. What do these pieces tell us about the status of play in our society? Is art play? Can play be art? As the visibility of a global community of spectators grows with the unprecedented interactivity of the Internet, and leisure activities become more and more coveted during this period of economic downturn, such questioning of achievement and play conceivably identifies the real salience of George and McDonough’s art and the tropes displayed within The Twelfth Man.