Occupying an environment of startling contradictions, I have been motivated to construct work that reflects an interest in structural collapse and the impossibility of certainty. Perceiving the world as a series of absurd situations, I construct narratives establishing an equally absurd causality. The meaning I manufacture is knowingly held in place by the flimsiest of scaffolds, serving as gags or little black jokes that acknowledge a more profound irrationality. Detroit has shaped my artistic philosophy and my use of humor in confronting uncertainty. It has also defined my interest in alternative methods for creative discourse. My enthusiasm for “lower” forms of “disposable” print ephemera such as comic books and comic strips, tabloid newspapers, postcards, catalogs, manuals and advertisements, is in their ability to function as a suitable device for investigating the absurd and the satirical. Through the use of text and image, I pursue the Absurd as a purposeful exercise in futility, in which meaning is assembled using procedure and ceremony, within a greater framework of indeterminacy.
Ryan Standfest is a Detroit-based artist. He is the editor and publisher of ROTLAND PRESS, presenting satirical publications of a culturally relevant nature. Rotland Press has published work by Sue Coe, David Lynch, David Shrigley and Art Spiegelman, among many others. The press was recognized by Art In America in 2016 as publishing a project that was one of the top five “significant artworks” to emerge from Detroit in that year. Standfest founded the performance group Cabaret BLACK EYE, a hybrid of vaudeville and Absurdist theatrical tendencies as a side project of Rotland Press. He is also a curator, assembling exhibitions that focus on different forms of humor in the visual arts. His publications and prints are in numerous collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago Ryerson & Burnham Library, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France Prints and Photographs Department, and the Harvard University Library. Standfest has exhibited work nationally and abroad, most recently in the Mike Kelly Mobile Homestead at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the International Print Center of New York, and the Association Les Abattoirs in Riom, France. Standfest earned an MFA in Printmaking from The University of Iowa.