Danica Phelps: Bankrupt
Jun 4 - Jul 23, 2011
Danica Phelps: Bankrupt

Danica Phelps: Bankrupt

Ritter/Zamet is pleased to present the third solo show at the gallery of New York artist Danica Phelps.

For the last decade Danica Phelps has meticulously chronicled her life living and working in New York with an exhaustive system of lists, charts and drawings documenting every single financial transaction--where each dollar is represented visually by a single stripe of watercolour: green for incomings, red for outgoings and grey for debts and credit. This began as intricate week-at-a-glance financial charts and point-by-point diaries with complimentary figurative line drawings of her daily activities and evolved into time-mapping panels of thousands of hand-painted stripes detailing her financial incomings and outgoings for sequences of months and then covering entire years.

In July 2006, Phelps purchased a building in Brooklyn with the financial assistance of a substantial mortgage and municipal loans along with some inherited funds. This lead to her largest and most ambitious project to date: creating grand-scale striped panels that documented firstly the down-payment for the building purchase itself (a red panel of some 250,000 stripes, 2006); her mortgage (over 600,000 grey stripes across 3 panels, 2007) and finally a home equity loan along with its expenditure on renovations and other expenses related to the purchase (a grey and red panel, 2007). 

Since this time, the indistinguishably intertwined realms of Danica Phelps’ art and personal life have been in a continuing state of progress and development. Early in 2008 she travelled to India where she had IVF and conceived her son Orion and since his birth in November 2008 she has subsequently split up with her long-time girlfriend and muse, Debi Ray-Chaudhuri.

Her latest show at Ritter/Zamet, as explained by Danica Phelps herself in the following text, will be the first creative, generative outcome of the acrimonious breakdown of that union. Due to Debi’s refusal to leave the apartment and a court order for eviction being dismissed by the Civil Court of the City of New York, Danica has been advised to declare herself bankrupt and give up her building.

“Without telling a long, long story (although that's what it is), I will try to tell you a short version just to explain where I am right now in my life. Basically, after Debi and I split up at the end of July 2009, I have been homeless for a year (living with my family in New Jersey and Maine) as she has been refusing to move out of my apartment, and yet has not paid for any of the expenses.  

I had been running out of money after supporting her for years, and the economy tanking as it has, so I was planning to rent out two of the bedrooms to pay some of the expenses. Not being able to do this, and after spending a lot of money and time trying to get her out of the apartment, the judge ruled that Debi and I are family even though we were not even domestic partners, and I can not evict her. So, the only way that I can get her out of the building is by going bankrupt and giving the building to the bank.”

The exhibition will present a series of variously sized hand-painted grey stripes mounted on birch wood panels and smaller works on paper each representing a singular accounting of her debts as she declared herself bankrupt, including credit cards, taxes, lawyers, accountants, builders and her family. Like the panels made previously documenting the acquisition of the property, they reveal a raw breakdown of personal complexity and financial accountability whilst at the same time creating objects of equivocal abstract beauty.