Harry Gould Harvey IV: Sick Metal
Through August 4, 2023
P·P·O·W is pleased to present Sick Metal, Harry Gould Harvey IV’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Born and raised in the post-industrial city of Fall River, MA, and Narragansett Bay, where he resides to this day, Harvey draws inspiration from the ecological fabric of his native South Coast Region to deconstruct the building blocks of empire and illuminate the weight of anonymous labor. Foraging materials from downed or cut trees, destroyed Gilded Age mansions, dilapidated factories, gutted Gothic churches, and his subconscious, Harvey creates mystical and diagrammatic drawings housed inside hand-built wood frames akin to reliquaries and large-scale sculptural installations which evoke lost histories of marginalized artisanship and backbreaking toil in the name of American industry and luxury.
For Harvey, artmaking serves a holistic function. In Sick Metal, Harvey delves into the relationship between illness, mis/translation, and transcendence, combining modes of mysticism, ecology, alchemy, and devotional imagery from many traditions to transform the gallery into both a sanctuary and laboratory. As a young child, Harvey was exposed to lead, disrupting his neuro-immunological functioning and altering his perception of and interactions with the world. After dropping out of high school, Harvey also worked with his father, melting lead onto the gates of Newport Mansions. Bringing together new framed drawings and poems, sculptural installations, and video and sound work, Harvey unearths the physical and psychological legacy of generational exposure to noxious metal for the adornment of the upper classes. Through Sick Metal, Harvey works to transform our relationship to these perceived ills and reveal how states of illness can also become sights of psychic transcendence and political resistance.
Mimicking geometric combinations he observed in nature, the works in Sick Metal are held in symmetrical balance as if through a magnetic pull. In Magneto Cloud Buster Broken Tub Thumper, 2023, Harvey fashions a red wax lion after the cement versions which stand as guardians over driveways and porches throughout the Northeast. Sitting atop a stack of vintage Japanese high-fidelity speakers originally brought to the US by military veterans, the lion features an antenna stretching upward from its back as if attempting to spark. Returning to the punk, noise and metal music scenes of his youth, Harvey composes an ambient score blending music and voice recordings, bird songs, and street sounds which emanate from the speakers only when activated by pressing a doorbell next to the sculpture. In another room, large tin factory fire doors, suspended in space by the grip of white bronze Osprey claws, spiral around twin monitors on lead clad pedestals which play compilations of video footage archiving a temporal index of the artist’s labor and daily life. In one video the artist finds a ladder on the side of the road. The same ladder is physically displayed in the gallery, replete with bronze and wax adornment, and is repeated in drawings such as Garden, 2023, and The Phantasmagoric Ladder ( Status Qou ), 2023. In this work, Harvey canonizes a late 19th century laborer who died on the ladder he carries in the image while connecting the electrical structure of Fall River to the grid. The infrastructure laid by Saint Kennedy is still in use to this day. Collapsing the spiritual and the political, the industrial and the biological, Sick Metal aims to attune us to the afflictions that all humans share and provide frameworks for healing, understanding, and transformation.
The restorative nature of Harvey’s practice also extends beyond the studio. In 2020, Harvey and his wife, the artist Brittni Ann Harvey, co-founded the Fall River Museum of Art. FR MoCA is a contemporary art space based in the wellbeing of the social ecology of Fall River and the Great South Coast Region. Creating culturally relevant programming in dialogue with the global contemporary art world while engaging in regional history and shared experiences, FR MoCA exists in a perpetual state of experimentation and exploration, working with varied collaborators to illuminate the shadows of past industries and allocate cultural resources.
Harry Gould Harvey IV (b. 1991) lives and works in Fall River, MA. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Arrows of Desire, with Faith Wilding, David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, 2021; The Confusion of Tongues!, Bureau, New York, NY, 2021; Coniunctio, with Kyung-Me, Bureau, New York, NY, 2019; EARTH CRISIS, with Samantha Durand, Alyssa Davis Gallery, New York, NY, 2018; Amen, Thanks Computer God!, with Jesse Sullivan, Freddy, Harris, NY, 2018; Prudence, Patience, Hope & Despair, Motel, Brooklyn, NY, 2018; Harry Gould Harvey IV with Species, Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA, 2018. Harvey is the founder of the curatorial project Pretty Days and co-founder of the Fall River Museum of Contemporary Art, Fall River, MA. He participated in the 2021 New Museum Triennial, Soft Water Hard Stone. In 2022, Harvey participated in the group exhibition Door to the Atmosphere at the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA, a work from which was acquired for their permanent collection.In spring 2023, Harvey presented An Anathema Strikes the Flesh of the Laborer at the Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale on Hudson, NY.