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21 Jun 2012

Stanya Kahn: It's Cool, I'm Good opens at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Stanya Kahn, It's Cool, I'm Good, 2010 (video still). Courtesy of the artist, and Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles Projects

Stanya Kahn: It's Cool, I'm Good


Preview: Fri 22 June, 18:00 - 21:00 Exhibition continues until Sun 16 September Galleries Open/ Tue - Sat: 12:00 - 20:00. Sun: 12:00 - 18:00 Free entry


+44 (0)161 228 7621

70 Oxford Street
Manchester, M1 5NH

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Cornerhouse, in collaboration with Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival, is delighted to present the first European solo exhibition of new and recent work by acclaimed Los Angeles-based artist Stanya Kahn.

Using humour as a central device, It's Cool, I'm Good will present a selection of videos and drawings, characterised by the artist's signature blend of dark comedy, visceral characters and reluctant optimism. The exhibition includes the premiere of new video commission Who Do You Think You Are.

Absurd, poignant and darkly comic, Kahn's videos create intimate portraits of compelling subjects as they struggle for success or mere survival despite setbacks, trauma and destabilised senses of self. The observations, mundane interactions and edgy jokes of Kahn's characters suggest a deeper consciousness of social alienation, power and agency.

In some works Kahn plays the protagonist. In It's Cool, I'm Good, the artist is a mysteriously injured 'patient' who seduces, harasses and charms a slew of nurses into visiting, possibly for the last time, LA's boulevards, beaches, and deserts. Personal distress gives rise to a gallows humor in which the body reflects the urban tension and precarious ecology of the landscapes. In Lookin' Good, Feelin' Good Kahn wears a giant foam penis out into the world, externalising stand-up comedy's endless penis jokes with an embodiment that can 'speak' for itself. The artist moves behind the camera for the verité video essays Kathy and Sandra, which feature Kahn's best friend and mother speaking candidly about their lives.

Her most recent video work leaves the world of the living and features objects navigating their own micro-worlds. In Arms are Overrated, two paper puppets skirt the issue of their impending obsolescence, chatting in a haunted theme park, by a pool, in bed. They even try to party, but if you're made of paper, beer and cigarettes will literally kill you.

A new commission Who Do You Think You Are further develops themes of trauma and recovery, and explores the elliptical concept of success. The film, which premieres at this exhibition, features a self-styled self-help guru whose relentlessly optimistic monologue thinly conceals her own vulnerability.

It's Cool, I'm Good will also include over thirty of Kahn's drawings.

Stanya Kahn lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include Susanne Vielmetter gallery, Los Angeles and Galleria Perdida/Recess, New York. It's Cool, I'm Good won the jury prize for short fiction at the Migrating Forms Festival, New York in 2010. Kahn's work, and previous work made in collaboration with Harry Dodge, has shown extensively in group exhibitions including the Orange County Museum of Art, The California Biennial 2010, Future Gallery, Berlin, 2008 Whitney Biennial, New York, Kunsthalle Bonn, Germany, Getty Museum, Los Angeles, The Hayward Gallery, London, ZKM/Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York and Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York.

Co-commissioned by Abandon Normal Devices Festival and Cornerhouse.

Curated by Henriette Huldisch, Associate Curator at Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, and Sarah Perks, Director of Programme & Engagement at Cornerhouse, Manchester.

It's Cool, I'm Good is part of Abandon Normal Devices (AND), an energetic festival of ground-breaking art, digital culture and new cinema taking place annually across the Northwest of England.

A new catalogue to accompany the exhibition, published by Cornerhouse, will be available online at