March 30, 2017
Richmond Center for Visual Arts
room 2008 at 5:30 p.m.
Detroit artist Ryan Standfest is the editor and publisher of ROTLAND PRESS, known for presenting publications of humor and despair. Ryan also founded the performance group Cabaret BLACK EYE, a hybrid of vaudeville and Absurdist theatrical tendencies. He is also a curator, assembling exhibitions that focus on different forms of humor in the visual arts. Standfest holds an MFA in Printmaking from The University of Iowa.
In his own words, Ryan has described his approach to his practice as follows: A third generation Detroiter, I have been a witness to systemic failure and have adapted strategies to respond to that failure. Ignorant of certain facts during most of my upbringing, I have learned that I came of age in the shadow of failed modernity. Growing up in an environment of startling contradictions, I have been motivated to construct work that reflects an interest in structural collapse and the impossibility of certainty. Perceiving the world as a series of absurd situations, I construct narratives establishing an equally absurd causality. The meaning I manufacture is knowingly held in place by the flimsiest of scaffolds, serving as gags or little black jokes that acknowledge a more profound irrationality. Detroit has shaped my artistic philosophy and my use of humor in confronting uncertainty. It has also defined my interest in alternative methods for creative discourse. My enthusiasm for “lower” forms of “disposable” print ephemera such as comic books and comic strips, tabloid newspapers, postcards, catalogs, manuals and advertisements, is in their ability to function as a suitable device for investigating the absurd and the satirical. Through the use of text and image, I pursue the Absurd as a purposeful exercise in futility, in which meaning is assembled using procedure and ceremony, within a greater framework of indeterminacy.