Gallery  March 21, 2024  Carlota Gamboa

The Optimization of Banality: Nora Turato’s Everyday Play

Courtesy the artist, LambdaLambdaLambda, Galerie Gregor Staiger and Sprüth Magers Photo: Robert Wedemeyer

Nora Turato, sleep / it's good for you!, 2024, Vitreous enamel on steel (4 parts) 242 x 192.5 x 3 cm | 95 1/4 x 75 7/8 x 1 1/8 inches © Nora Turato

In the age of daily affirmations and online self-betterment, Nora Turato is breaking herself down. On view at Sprüth Magers in Los Angeles, it's not true!!! stop lying!, the Croatian-born artist’s first solo exhibition in the city, consists of billboard-like murals and enamel panels that reference the look and feel of social-media posts and advertisements and whose language pulls from a variety of sources ranging from spiritual positivism to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

On two adjacent walls, the murals of, “haha,” and, “authenticity,” sit perpendicular to one another, creating a space for social rumination. Despite being hand painted, the works disguise themselves as typefaces that could be found in anybody’s dropdown font menu. 

Nora Turato is an artist whose practice exists in the nuance of language and gesture. Using her background in graphic design to play with every-day language and visual culture, she blends theater with her enamel pieces. Though her work can be stylistically compared to Barbra Kruger and Jenny Holzer, there is something deeply comical in the way she chooses to communicate with audiences. She takes on the role of a jester, unafraid to question the viewer’s complicity through mirroring and humor. However moments of tenderness appear in both the paintings and the performances, leaving an open door to sincere connection. 

Turato has worked with graphic designers like Sam de Groot and Kia Tasbihgou to create her own variation of the fonts used in it's not true!!! stop lying! Turato’s digital fake-outs defamiliarize themselves from their cultural sources. Robert DeNiro’s line in Taxi Driver, “From now on, it’ll be total organization. Every muscle must be tight,” becomes, “I’M GOING CLEAR / total organization is necessary!” on Turato’s enamel. The themes of saturation and performativity are reimagined and funneled out through a subversive lens. 

The exhibition also features the continuation of the artist's pool series, which further intertwines her performance art with graphic design through bookmaking. The transcription of her performances into artist’s books not only serve as another piece of the exhibition, but as an archive of it as well. The ongoing collection of ‘pools’ act as culminations. The tropes which thematically show up her paintings become a linguistic script and then a public recital. 

Courtesy the artist, LambdaLambdaLambda, Galerie Gregor Staiger and Sprüth Magers Photo: Robert Wedemeyer

Nora Turato, i know we are all into woo here, but homeopathy is fake, right? right!, 2024, Vitreous enamel on steel (4 parts), 242 x 192.5 x 3 cm | 95 1/4 x 75 7/8 x 1 1/8 inches, © Nora Turato

For pool 5, first performed in 2022 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Turato delivered a stream-of-consciousness monologue where Turato channeled her inner CEO. The amalgamation of rhetoric she starts off with eventually unravels into what feels like ChatGPT blather confidently masking as human dialogue. 

Though some moments seem random, Turato’s word-play creates space for personal interpretation and abstraction. Intuitive and metaphorical meanings sprout from the performances and produce further depth and context into the show. 

Her latest iteration in the series, pool 6, a performance piece performed with it's not true!!! stop lying!, is interested in the obsession of self-optimization. Using shifting personas and a plethora of voices, as well as holotropic breathwork and hypnosis (which are new modalities for the artist), Turato addresses the anxiety of perfection. 

Satirizing the lexicon of self-help, her performance examines the relationship of perception, the daily routine, and constant comparison. Video work based on the performance is also on view at the gallery, and the wall-sized projection shifts from word to image to speech with varying inflection.  

Nora Turato is on view at Sprüth Magers through April 27, 2024.

About the Author

Carlota Gamboa

Carlota Gamboa is an art writer based in Los Angeles.

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