Fraser Stables: removed name Taj Mahal November 22– December 20, 2020
Location: 3317 West 4th Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76107
Blind Alley projects is pleased to announce Fraser Stables: removed name Taj Mahal and proud to host such a carefully considered and boldly presented exhibition. The following description or explanation was written by Frazer Ward, an art historian and critic working with Stables on an expanded book project that thinks through the implications of the artist’s Taj Mahal images.
removed name Taj Mahal
Build a casino, go way over budget but never actually pay construction costs, get it up and running, receive tax relief, go bankrupt, sell at a discount. Rinse and repeat. Fraser Stables photographed the former Trump Taj Mahal in 2017—everything being sold off after bankruptcy and money-laundering fines—before it reopened as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in 2018. Ruins, it’s clear, have come down in the world, the husk of the casino stands for nothing more than developers’ shell games. Seen through a scrim of fragmented language describing the enterprise’s temporary demise, Stables’ photographs of the building’s interiors precisely describe the quick shift from the illusion of luxury to the bloom of mold. You can practically taste the bad air. The tackiness of the cascade of decorated surfaces—carpets, wallpaper, fake marble, synthetic curtains—betrays a fantasy of excess and opulence, of “classiness” or even class, that is utterly spent. Stables makes clear for us the interior design equivalent of the bankrupt’s idea that if you make baseless assertions loudly enough, someone will believe you.
The interest in systems of value and exchange expressed in removed name Taj Mahal is a consistent theme in Stables’ work, including the series under the rubric Cash for Gold made in collaboration with the writer Brett Davidson (which goes beyond the Atlantic City boardwalk). In different ways, this extends through his photographs of rarified architectural sites in Remembering Architecture and through his depictions of intertwined moments of performativity and domestic life in the long-term project Solo Shoot. Stables consistently poses questions about how we negotiate value in our lives. For instance, how do the excessive, the fake, the tawdry come to represent taste and style? Precisely and without judgment, Stables investigates how individuals, starting wherever they start, navigate the thickets of aspiration and class to produce meaningful contexts for themselves. What do we need to pawn, to stay afloat?
Fraser Stables is a Scottish artist, based in Massachusetts, where he is a professor at Smith College. He has exhibited in North America, Europe, and Japan. Stables is represented by Georgia Scherman Projects in Toronto, Canada www.georgiascherman.com. He formerly lived in Houston, where he was in residence at the Core Program. Stables co-directs Atopia Projects (with Gavin Morrison), an arts organization that initiates curatorial and publishing projects www.atopiaprojects.org. More on Stables can be found at www.fraserstables.com.
This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Brett Davidson, a friend of the artist, and collaborator on projects that informed this exhibition.