Rolling on the Floor Laughing with Chloe Wise
“I live my life in a very humorous way—I do it all for the jokes, all the time,” says Chloe Wise, the Canadian-bred New York-based painter, sculptor, video artist, quintessential Millennial, and “nice Jewish girl” who is injecting the art world with a much-needed dose of comedy. She inadvertently punk’d the fashion industry when actress India Menuez wore her sculpture, Bagel No. 5, to a Chanel event earlier this fall, causing an Internet craze surrounding the iconic brand’s latest “It Bag.” But this was no accessory, just one of several sculptures in Chloe’s bread bag series that plays on the luxury handbag craze of the 2000s, when the “in” bag was all the rage, and a highly coveted gift at any bat mitzvah (the series also includes the Louis Vuitton baguette and the Prada challah backpack). It sent the fashion industry spinning, and had Chloe LOL’ing: “I was able to successfully make a critique of the fashion world and they unintentionally embraced it—it was really interesting and kind of hilarious.”
A lot of Chloe’s work centers around consumer culture, from the commodities that we glorify to the often-laughable advertisements used to sell them. Her Irregular Tampons sculptures were coupled with ads for the different satirical product lines, from the Horoscope Variety Pack (“Is it PMS… or is Mercury in Retrograde?”) to the “legitimately generic” Normcore selection, depending on your period’s personal preference. “I just think it’s so funny the way that tampons are marketed to your ‘personality’ when it is such a boring, utilitarian product.”
She also explores the way that women are represented—and represent themselves—particularly on the Internet and through social media. “When artists use themselves as the subject, there is this question of ‘is this art’ or ‘is this narcissism,’ and I think it’s really interesting,” she says. ”I wanted to make fun of myself as a girl participating in today’s selfie culture, as well as a self-mythologizing artist, which has been a thing in the art world forever.” This led to her series of photographs, paintings, and a zine, collectively titled “Literally Me.” They’re literally photographs of Chloe, posing in front of her own self-portraits. It’s. Literally. Just. Chloe. "I did one portrait everyday, and disregarded any sense of color theory or proportion or classical rules that I’d been taught in school, and was just blasting rap music in my studio—it was good to release the seriousness that I’d associated with oil-painting, and just make it feel very me."
Chloe’s comedic chops can be attributed, at least in part, to her love for the Adult Swim’s favorite duo Tim & Eric. “They’re my all time everything—I’ve been watching them since I was 16, and they’ve really influenced me,” she says. Many of her art world heroes also incorporated humor into their work, from Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain to Claes Oldenburg’s oversized consumer goods and Jeff Koons’ larger than life balloon animals. “Commodifying and making art out of toys, sex, food—why not? That’s what we like and its such a part of our life, why deny that?” Making a Star of (Larry) David out of bacon—why not? She made a cross out of matzo too. “There is humor that doesn’t necessarily make you laugh out loud, but it is a joke in itself,” she explains. “The fact that I took the time to make a sculpture of bacon in the shape of a Jewish star, and make into something that can be put in a gallery setting, that to me is a comedic gesture.”
What makes Chloe’s work so intelligent, engaging, and actually LOL-worthy is that she’s not sitting on a pedestal making fun of the world around her, she is sitting on the floor of her studio probably making a funny face and laughing at herself and thinking about her own participation in that world. “I love it all—fashion, music, food, art—but I think that in any business you should take a minute to step back and laugh at yourself,” she says. “If you can create something that makes a critique and makes people think ‘Oh I just got pranked,’ and rethink their values—that’s what art should do and what comedy does really effectively, and it’s so important.” Girl preach (praying hands emoji).
Photos by: Adam Levett, Jennifer Medina, Theo Gennitsakis, Hannah Sider, Miyako Bellizzi