Born 1975, Portland, Oregon
Lives and works in New York City

Jamie Isenstein
blurs distinctions between performance and sculpture, often through use of her own body as ready-made object in her “inhabited sculptures,” and thereby questions the notion of “live” in her work. Isenstein reflects on the concept of art living beyond its creator and the role of the artist’s hand, quite literally, within a work of art, most often utilizing the lexicon of comedy and magic as metaphors for larger contexts. As with Magic Lamp (2005), and Isenstein’s other inhabited sculptures, it is almost an absurd reversal where the artwork has co-opted the artist’s body, creating an anthropomorphized self-deprecated sculpture. While these sculptures rely on her body’s presence, Isenstein offers an equally compelling solution for when she is absent. In doing so, Isenstein’s performances never truly end but instead go into extended intermissions. This way, unlike most performance or endurance art that has a finite beginning and end, her performances become more like sculptures that last indefinitely. Isenstein’s art practice offers an uncanny dimension to seemingly inanimate objects: In Snuffer (2008), she heightens the duality of being live and inanimate at the same time. The photo depicts a candle evading its own mortality in a comic way. At times, Isenstein’s comedic narrative becomes so nuanced and personalized that she makes jokes about the forms, props, and manifestations that comedic intent may take. In her Untitled (2013) clown shoe series, for example (the clown shoe is already a joke—an oversized, physical prop worn by a performer) Isenstein extends, re-formulates, and finally curls the joke back onto itself. On view are three iterations from this series, increasing in scale from a one-panel to three-paneled clown shoe, a clown shoe to laugh at clown shoes.

Jamie Isenstein earned her BA from Reed College in Portland in 1998 and her MFA from Columbia University in 2004. Isenstein’s performances, installations, drawings, and sculptures have been the subject of solo exhibitions at Reed College, Portland, OR (2013); Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York (2010 and 2007); Hammer Projects at the Hammer Museum (2007); Meyer Riegger Galerie, Karlsruhe and Berlin, Germany (2006); and Guild and Greyshkul, New York (2004). Group exhibitions include those at Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Liverpool Biennial, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco; and Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna. Reviews of Isenstein’s work have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Contemporary, Art in America, and Modern Painters. Isenstein is currently preparing work for her third solo exhibition at Andrew Kreps Gallery, in New York City for the spring of 2015.

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