in New York, NY / United States
21.06.2024 - 31.08.2024 00:00
Ship of Fools

Freight + Volume presents “Ship of Fools”, a group exhibition featuring works by fifteen gallery artists and invited guests: Tony Bluestone, Rose Briccetti, Mary Devincentis, Angela Dufresne, Bel Fullana, Karen Finley, Rebecca Goyette, Ronald Hall, Ezra Johnson, Jean-Paul Mallozzi, Taj Mutumbi, Alexander Nolan, Tom Rees, Michael Scoggins, and Jonathan Torres.

Referencing the allegorical 1962 novel by Katherine Anne Porter, “Ship of Fools” weaves together a host of artists with disparate practices in an effort to retrace the contours of society today divided as it is by war, nationalism, and entrenched historical conflicts. Just as Porter’s book reflects the rise of Nazism and looks metaphorically at the progress of the world on its “voyage to eternity”, the artworks on view assess our moment in history and the future legacy of present day world events — the upcoming presidential election, wars in Gaza and Ukraine, climate change, and the rise of artificial intelligence. Against a backdrop of ceaseless conflict, coming to terms with prejudice, disillusionment, the human condition, and related themes, becomes more significant than ever.

Just as Porter’s novel presents a tapestry of human experiences, “Ship of Fools” showcases works from artists of various backgrounds, styles, and mediums. The exhibition explores imbricated themes of isolation vs. community, social as opposed to political commentary, and, finally, the emotional complexity embedded in our shared experience of pandemics, protest, and war. In this sprawling dystopia, satire becomes a lifesaving weapon. The maximalist portrait of Rose Briccetti‘s “Opium Poppy” (2024), provides one example of how painting, even if it cannot change the world, can certainly change how we see the world. Briccetti’s elegantly dressed central figure seems happily submissive to the cloying world of narcosis that surrounds her. Part “Wizard of Oz”, part Afghan theater of war, the fantasy aspect of the painting comments against the brutal realities to which it alludes.

By presenting art that addresses both the solitude and the interconnectedness of individuals in society, many of the works on view explore themes of loneliness, connection, and the island-like disconnection between personal and communal spaces. As commentary on the societal attitudes and political tensions of our time, “Ship of Fools” serves as a platform for social and political critique, engaging with contemporary issues through the lens of fine art.

Mary DeVincentis and Ronald Hall depict a world which calmly assimilate inconsistencies verging on the surreal. The premise revisited across DeVincentis’s “Harm’s Way Redux” (2024) presents a kind of bureauphobia raining down on a world all but given way to nightmarish solitude. For his part, Ronald Hall, in works like “New World Order” (2023) delves into the legacy of racialism more generally both in the US and the West. Incorporating symbolism derived from Masonic traditions and from European ideals traceable back to the Renaissance, Hall points out numerous ideological incongruities, while also affirming the presence of blackness across the centuries.

Inviting viewers to engage with works that range from a petulantly adolescent POV to the introspective and melancholic, what counts the most in this exhibition is the glorification of community. “Ship of Fools” proposes a collective odyssey into individual dystopias, shared madness, and the universal longing for something tantalizingly out of reach. As in the novel, this exhibition’s core is its multiperspectivity; the object of someone’s longing will never be the same as anyone else’s, and yet it is through the shared endeavor of searching that a common center can be found.

Gallery hours Tue-Sat 11 am – 6 pm

Exhibition Duration 21 June – 31 August 2024


Freight + Volume
39 Lispenard St.
10013 New York, NY
United States


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