Bradley Wester

Jun 7–Jul 14, 2019

DEAD RINGER, a group exhibition guest curated by Elizabeth Duffy at the Bristol Art Museum

DEAD RINGERS, a group exhibition guest curated by Elizabeth Duffy at the Bristol Art Museum opens on Friday, June 7th, 6-8pm. Featured will be my “Disco Intervention: Queering the Military” digital print series, along with the work of eight other artists from six states.

At first glance, the artists in Dead Ringer construct familiar objects: a bikini, a brick, a faceted glass vase. But on closer inspection, an undercurrent of disquiet and hidden meanings emerge. These artists ask viewers to disassemble their works, to consider both what they think they see and the epiphanies and realities that come with closer looking. Calm and order are vastly overrated in this moment of #MeToo, fake news and inexorable cruelty. Each of these artists makes works that are indelible, jaggedly smart and timely, looking at our moment and refusing to sugar-coat its anxieties.

“KISS” Disco Intervention series, by Bradley Wester 2014

In these arresting, transgressive images, artist Bradley Wester has found online rare and now impossible to find photos, taken by British military cadets of each other at basecamp. Some appear to be documenting hazing rituals. The most ‘humiliating’ of which are the ones that feminize or ‘make queer’ the soldier, including making them kiss or wear woman’s underwear. Others are images of genuine affection between soldiers, who may or may not be gay. Wester digitally inserts a hovering mirror ball into each of these scenes, referencing both disco and surveillance drones, in an attempt to turn the implicit misogyny and homophobia in some of these images on its head. In a different context, outside the military, men dressing as or performing like women can be a celebratory expression of fluidity and diversity. The iconic disco ball, in Bradley Wester’s Queering the Military Disco Intervention series, is symbolically meant to ‘disarm’ these images of soldiers not fighting, and render them part of a kinder, tenderer, sexier, more diverse place.

“TUCK” Disco Intervention series, by Bradley Wester 2014

Bradley Wester takes photos of disco balls wherever he is in the world. He inserts the disco ball into his Disco Intervention series to look as if native to the scene, where the reflections actually appear to match the larger image. The found military images from the internet are low resolution. Wester increases the resolution and cleans up the images which finally have a hyper-real, videogame feel.

“CUM” Disco Intervention series, by Bradley Wester 2014

The Bristol Art Museum Presents​
Dead Ringer
Guest curator Elizabeth Duffy
On view June 7th– July 14th, 2019
​Artist Reception | Friday, June 7th @ 6-8 pm

525 Hope Street (rt 114)
​Bristol, RI