Juxtapoz Magazine: The Agreement, The Fool and The Storm – Ivy Haldeman strips away the idea of the self

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The thing I love the most about Ivy HaldemanYou know everything but you are trying to figure out why something feels heavy when taken out of context. You recognize everything, but are trying to understand why something out-of-context feels so heavy. The empty bikinis – what happened to the woman who wore it? What we can only assume to be men in suits, close-up: Are they making a peace deal or agreeing on war? And in her latest show at François GhebalyThe Agreement, The Fool & The Storm I was reminded of something they said that has stayed with me for the past few months:Notion of ‘slippage’ are at the heart of Haldeman’s art and the exhibition is a study in the push-pull between image and power.” 

This is the story: Bikini Atoll, a coral reef consisting of a ring-shaped group of islands, is located 2600 miles southwest from Honolulu. It is also 5000 miles away from Los Angeles. In 1946, after decades of German and Japanese imperial control, the United States displaced the atoll’s Marshallese population and began to use the islands as a peacetime nuclear testing site. In the next 12 years, the U.S. Military deployed nearly 20 hydrogen bombs over land, ocean, and the coral reefs at Bikini. 

To keep pace with the Soviet nuclear program the United States blew up bigger and bigger explosives in the Pacific. Just as the testing was beginning, a Cold War-era race of reverse scale was launched 8000 miles away when French designer Louis Réard co-opted the atoll’s name to describe yet another mid-century provocation of superlative proportions, one that would come to define gendered aesthetics for decades to come: “the Bikini — smaller than the smallest swimsuit in the world.” In red, pink, and polkadot styles, Réard’s design is a central figure in Haldeman’s newest exhibition, The Agreement, The Fool, and The Storm.

In these paintings, the things are not what they appear to be, yet they still have a heavyness in even the most abstract ways. A place of conflict is also directly related to a minimal bathing suit. A handshake in paradise can also lead to apocalypse. The sheer size of the works, which is almost like a mural, can be overwhelming. But underneath, each utopia leads to dystopian outcomes. —Evan Pricco

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