Petra Cortright’s recent work, a series of digital paintings titled “Zero-Day Darling” shown at Ever Gold, disguises itself as traditional series within an art genre that aggressively aims to breach norms. These congested compositions comprised of saturated colors and clumps bright floral bursts, with background layerings of what begins to look like stacks of photographs emerge from a sophisticated process that highlights Cortright’s expertise in her craft.
Considered a ‘post-internet’ artist, in the past two years Cortright’s work has been translated from web pages to gallery walls. In “Zero-Day Darling”, Cortright has taken her found-object-styled internet creations and developed processes in which she can bring them into a conventional physical space. She has a refreshingly tactful take within her work that incorporates labor into its value and meaning, and reintroduces skill into increasingly convenient digital mediums.
Cortright’s previous work, a gallery installation of desktop strippers she discovered on a pornography site goes directly against the traditional sense of art. Her previous rebellious style showed a feminist agenda with powerful recourse, however she was only beginning to understand the careful process of translating the digital into the physical. Her subversive style in this case turned many away, however I suspect more were turned away by the lack of finesse in artistry. A projection on a wall is an artistic statement, but not a craft.
“Zero-Day, Darling” refines her process. Cortright sticks to her desire to incorporate “found” objects from the internet, but reinvents the translation from digital to physical to add meaning by the way in which it is brought into the space. The artistic value in the piece does not exist at all within the materials, nor the final product, but somewhere in-between, in the production.
“Zero-Day Darling” is all about process. She uses a belabored process to create value and meaning deep within her work, layering multiple found images from the web in an elaborate printing process.
Her process has multiple steps. The end product, much in the style of the impressionist movement, pays homage to the process of seeing and making, leaving behind artifacts of creation such as smudges and other textures. The remnants of process present within her work are in dialogue with her previous feminist messages, her long-form, aggressive and monumental process fights the norms she faces within her profession:
Additionally, Cortright’s source of digital imagery, Pinterest, is indicative of the dialogue that she explores concerning gendered imagery and image sources. Pinterest, a social network with a image-sharing and craft project focus, is predominately used by young women. Cortright’s choice to source her “found” imagery through Pinterest symbolically labels her images in pink, but in a way that one is unable to detect by only looking at them, calling attention to the social manifestation of gender in our society as well as its subjectivity.
“Zero-Day Darling” has been likened to Claude Monet’s impressionistic work. Her digital paintings composed of multiple prints and layers of digital images experientially reflect the sensation of looking through images of flowers, women, etc. on the internet.
Much as Monet’s work captured the individuality and impermanence of perception, Cortright’s digital paintings encapsulate the accessibility and variety of visual information that can be found and interpreted online. Looking at her layered, cluttered, flowered imagery, one might imagine that they are instead scrolling through a saturated webpage with suggestions for how to arrange flowers for a unique wedding. In a far more intentional, artistic and meaningful way so revisits the same work she did in 2015, introducing her musings from the internet into a physical space. In this case, she does so with class and mastery.
Met Museum (On Claude Monet and Impressionism)