Carly Mandel interviewed in BOMB

May 01, 2018

work by Carly Mandel, Intermedia alumna Pacific Northwest College of Art

On the occasion of her solo exhibition, Osseous, at 77 Mulberry, alumna Carly Mandel '15 is interviewed by Kerry Doran for Bomb magazine. This is the first New York solo exhibition for the Brooklyn-based Mandel.

Doran's introduction frames the conversation:

Carly Mandel’s recent works give chronic illness and disability visible forms. Those afflicted by autoimmune disease, mental illness, and a host of other “invisible” ailments often present as able-bodied. This negotiation of appearances with lived reality is at the core of her work, taking shape in concrete prototypes of medical-assistive devices or irregular glass vessels.

The backdrop has and continues to be the eroding healthcare system in the United States; its narrative asserts that one must be able-bodied to be of value, that is, to create value. Meanwhile, “self-care” burgeons as a pay-to-play wellness industry, its moniker clearly stating what healthcare under President Trump’s strange breed of populist-neoliberalism promises.

Mandel’s recovery from multiple chronic illnesses and the personal narratives tied to these experiences were previously off limits in her practice. Introducing this aspect of her identity into the work resulted in a grant for Emerging Artists with Disabilities from the Kennedy Center Office of VSA and Accessibility in 2017. She has since produced a new body of work, some of which comprises her solo show, Osseous, currently on view at 77 Mulberry.

In the interview, Mandel says that her work, "addresses the vulnerability and trauma of bodies, which finds itself in the tension between soft and hard forms and materials." The title of exhibition refers to the artist's, "recent diagnosis of a second autoimmune disease, in which inflammation causes joints to ossify. The wallpaper, C4/C5, comprises distorted images from an MRI scan."

Mandel says, "Existing in spite of, or thriving with medical intervention, doesn’t need a trophy or pity; it requires respect and empathy."

Advocating for healthcare, access to success for all, the ability to function in public are not circumstances of being a special snowflake; it’s the pursuit of human rights that have been denied to female-identifying, queer, non-white, and disabled people. I’m concerned with community, narratives of disability, and traumatized bodies in the current socio-political environment, rather than trying to assert the irregularity of self. Addressing this in my work doesn’t align me with a liberal political agenda; it aligns me with an underrepresented community in art and sculpture."

See Mandel's website.