Press for Eager:
Art Forum
Arte Fuse
Metro NY

ZieherSmith is pleased to present Allison Schulnik’s second solo exhibition at the gallery featuring the world premiere of her fourth animated film since 2000, Eager, along with related paintings, sculpture, and works on paper. Drawing from sources both autobiographical and inspirational, Eager is a poignant journey set between a timeless void and supernatural abundance; it is a celebration of the moving painting. An experiment in animation as dance (the artist was trained as a dancer), its subjects are choreographed in abstract, emotive gestures. The line is blurred between the material elements of painting (texture, color, form) and the physicality and movement of ballet and theater. At over 8 minutes, the film is her longest to date.

Haunting, hollow specters stretch, transmogrify and multiply as their synchronized shifts hint at ancient, highly charged rituals. Figures splay open and bleed into snapdragons, vagina dentate, bladderworts and Venus flytraps; the flowers grow faces. The cast further includes spectral figures in delicate blue robes, the boneless horse, and skeletal figures that are flayed and worn like hides. Through them, Schulnik addresses what she calls "the obvious things – need, hope, sadness, desire, disorder, chaos." Although there is a beginning, middle and end, what the film retains in traditional material and methods, it avoids in narrative structure. It is an uncertain account of what exists somewhere between tragedy and farce.

Like all her films, it is also a celebration of the hand-made and a purist clay-mation where all effects are done in-camera. Schulnik animated thousands of frames entirely herself, and alone constructed over 65 figural puppets made of clay, fabrics, wire, wood, paint and glue. For the first time, the film features original music: a score she commissioned from composer Aaron M. Olson to which she choreographed the piece. Using no special effects or digital manipulation, the artist utilized traditional stop-motion techniques. As with Schulnik’s previous two films, Helder K. Sun provided the cinematography for the piece. Otherwise, the artist personally made every element, movement, and edit to the piece, laboring for over 13 months in her Los Angeles studio. The film installation will be blocked off by hand-painted wallpapered walls and one major painting, St. Louis Man featuring her signature Hobo Clown in a lush forest. Several sculptures and works on paper will complete the exhibition.

Schulnik wide range of influences includes the choreography, writings, and animation by Pina Bausch, Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller, Busby Berkeley, Martha Graham, Bob Fosse, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Disney’s 1951 version of Alice in Wonderland and the work of her former teachers Jules Engel (an animator on Disney’s Fantasia) and Corny Cole (animator for Richard William’s Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure, 1977).

The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut will host the museum premiere of Eager (2014) as part of the upcoming exhibition Allison Schulnik / MATRIX 168, presented February 6 – May 4, 2014. Other solo shows include those at the Laguna Art Museum, the Nerman Museum, and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Her work has been included in group shows and film screenings at the DeCordova Sculpture Museum and Park, the St. Louis Contemporary Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Hammer Museum, among many other museums and galleries internationally. Her work is in the permanent collections of over a dozen museums and public collection including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.