Nitehawk’s December Artist Film Club
a night of videos by artist Robert Melee
curated by Diana Shpungin

Thursday, December 13 | 8 – 10pm | Nitehawk’s Downstairs Bar | Free

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For over two decades Robert Melee has been making work that is at once shocking, campy, hilarious, disconcerting, compelling and sympathetic. Probing the depths of suburban dysfunction and mother-son relations through his own autobiography, Melee finds beauty in the abject and the ridiculous.  This certainly unconventional mother/son relationship provides the raw material for Melee’s work. Rose Melee’s eccentric, grotesque appearance and inescapable alcoholism contribute to the perverse impact, making her the attraction and sensation of his work. Mr. Melee wields the camera as an act of self-defense and revenge, but also as a means of gaining affection from both his mother and quite possibly the viewer. With his mother as his muse, he has made his films a kind of rebus about his life, proving that more than simply surviving his unusual childhood, he gained from it immense joy and certainly a sense of baroque theatricality that he is willing to reveal and share. Melee’s works are often shot on Super-8 with a “home-movie” aesthetic that seems to suggest we are watching normal family life. And in addition to casting his mother, other works include the artist’s friends, often borrowing from his mom’s costume and makeup aesthetic and applying a similarly bland and disingenuously disinterested eye to risqué scenes, blurring genders and genres as they go.

Robert Melee is a New York City based artist born in New Jersey in 1966. Melee’s extensive body of multi media work includes explorations in painting, photography, sculpture, installation and video. He studied at the School of Visual Arts, NYC and has shown in numerous exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Solo exhibitions include: Andrew Kreps Gallery, NY; the Centre Gallery, Miami-Dade Community Collage, Miami, FL; at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; David Kordansky, Los Angeles, CA; White Cube and Sutton Lane, London: City Hall Park, NYC: Arena Mexico, Guadalajara, Mexico: and Art Statements, Art 34 Basel, Switzerland. Group exhibitions include: Greater New York,  P.S.1, NYC; Adaptive Behavior, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York: Family, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, CT; Portugal Arte 10, Portugal Biennial, Lisbon Portugal; and hue and cry, Sotheby’s S/2 Gallery, NYC. Performances include Robert Melees Talent Show both in 2005, 2010 at the Kitchen, NYC; and This Is For You at Judson Church, NYC.

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Diana Shpungin is a Brooklyn based artist and occasional curator. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, New York.Shpungin is currently teaching at Parsons: The New School for Design in New York City.

Shpungin’s Past curatorial projects include: Dust To Settle (2011) Cuchifritos, Festival for New Ideas, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY, NY; Delicatessen (2007) Schmidt Center Gallery, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL; and Codependent (2005) The Living Room, Art Basel, Miami, FL.

Shpungin has exhibited extensively in international venues that include: Futura Center for Contemporary Art, Prague, Czech Republic: Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan; Carrousel du Louvre, Paris, France; Invisible Exports, New York, NY; Stephan Stoyanov Gallery, New York, NY;Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY; Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL; Marella Arte Contemporenea, Milan, Italy; Galerie Zurcher, Paris, France; and The Geisai Art Fair, Organized by Takashi Murakami in Miami, FL for Art Basel. Shpungin’s work has been reviewed in publications such as New York Magazine, Artforum, Flash Art, Art in America, Art Papers, The Village Voice, The New York Times, Timeout New York, Zing Magazine, Timeout London, Connaissance des Arts and Le Monde, among others. Shpungin has been awarded residencies with The MacDowell Colony and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.