Tate Foley: Post No Bills

Great Rivers Biennial 2016


Tate Foley’s work revolves around printing and bookmaking, often examining connections between language and social issues. Part of the 2016 Great Rivers BiennialPost No Bills, an installation of large-scale sculptures and twelve single-channel videos, reframes the language of protest. Foley’s freestanding structures are architectural, geometric, and assembled with an attention to detail that defies their seemingly make-shift construction. Created with a Risograph—a digital printing technology that came to the fore in the 1980s—prints of phonetically spelled words are wheat pasted to the structures’ facades. Such terms as “bourgeoisie,” “systematic,” and “explicit” envelop the sculptures, which formally recall bulletin boards. Often used by the media to discuss issues of gender, ethnicity, and class, these terms hint at the possibility of antagonism and exclusion.

Adjacent to the structures, twelve flat-screen monitors are laid out in a four-by-three grid, with each screen displaying the artist’s hand painting a large letter onto a sheet of paper. Foley rhythmically forms the uniform, linear shapes to reveal potent three-syllable words. As with his sculptures, the artist alters each word’s conventional spelling into its phonetic components: “volatile” becomes “VAH-LIH-TULL.” Through the deconstruction of language, Foley dismantles systems of power, allowing viewers to interrogate the impact of prescribed definitions and construct their own nuanced meanings of often essentializing terms.

Tate Foley (b. 1985, Millerton, Pennsylvania) lives and works in St. Louis. Recent solo exhibitions includeHorrifically Obvious, Spudnik Press Gallery, Chicago (2014); So It Goes/So Geht Es, SternstudioX, Vienna, Austria (2012); and 100% Stratification Guaranteed, Recession Art Gallery, New York (2012). Recent group exhibitions include Samples, Gallery of Contemporary Art, St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, St. Louis (2014) and From Sea to Shining Sea, St. Louis Artists’ Guild, St. Louis (2012). Foley received his MFA from the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia.

This exhibition is made possible by the Gateway Foundation.

The 2016 Great Rivers Biennial is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Jeffrey Uslip, Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs / Chief Curator.