Elise Duryee-Browner Embraces The I-Don’t-Know of Art
Art Young Artists 2022

Elise Duryee-Browner Embraces The I-Don’t-Know of Art

On view at Elise Duryee-Browner’s first solo exhibition, "Vibe of the Era," at Gandt in Queens, New York, was a sculptural object called Gold Coin (2021). Platformed and spotlighted in the dimly lit Astoria apartment gallery was a 24-karat gold coin with a doll face in the highest definition, nearly floating in a deep abyss. “Some people like money because it protects them from the vagaries of culture, which can be cruel...” reads the last line of the press release accompanying the show, which also asks, without answering, questions about anti-Semitism, violence and capitalism. “Out of the desire to control the narrative,” Duryee-Browner explains, she wrote it herself. “I think it would be cool to let someone else do it someday,” she muses.

Elise Duryee-Browner meets the camera in a midtown New York office park. Photography by Aubrey Mayer.

The themes of "Vibe of the Era" most obviously include money, currency and financial transactions, but a deeper look at her practice also discloses an unwavering interest in reciprocity and exchange, in collaboration and politics. “There’s a looseness to a lot of elements of what I do,” Duryee-Browner, who is also writer and musician, admits. Without a specific medium, without a stifling grip on her artistic identity, without an art-school education, she is freed up to barter with her own artwork. “It’s easier for me to explain [what I do] in stories,” she says. She has learned to work intuitively, falling deep into the I-don’t-know of art.

“I have a show coming up at a friend’s gallery upstate, near this farm that I visited,” she says, pulling out a big, orange carrot with green tops that she will likely show. “I’m interested in being mildly cheesy and sometimes I’m super concrete.” And yet Duryee-Browner’s work carries with it a kind of reluctant sincerity, a belief in relation. She herself might call it, after a Badiou quote she can no longer find, “grace.”