Hustle for that Muscle
January 12 - February 5, 2023
Public Works Administration—an art gallery located directly underneath Times Square—is pleased to present Hustle for that Muscle, an immersive installation featuring new video, sculpture, and print work by Amanda Mehl.
Opens: January 12, 2023 7 pm-10 pm| On view: January 12 - February 5, 2023 | Gallery Hours: Thurs - Sat, 2 p.m. - 7 p.m. | Or book an appointment with us | Address: 1627 Broadway | enter via Downtown 1 Train at 50th Street
Amanda Mehl’s solo exhibition, Hustle for that Muscle, is a satire about self-improvement messaging and the economies of modern American consumerism. Mehl is inspired by the overwhelming number of ads in Midtown, New York, and questions how we view ourselves, our progress, and our superficiality.
In the exhibition, viewers enter a sterile room—it could be an office break room or a waiting room—filled with self-improvement messages on the walls and the sound of a talk show host in the background. Mehl uses this setting to highlight America’s obsession with hard work, hustling, and self-improvement. Through posters, sports drink bottles, trophies, and TV shows, Mehl draws attention to our fixation on winning, exacerbated by the overconsumption of media. She brings attention to how marketers use psychological techniques, like social proof, to exploit our insecurities and consumer behavior.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is the video, “There is no ‘I’ in Team,” in which Mehl’s characters chant motivational phrases like “You have to hustle for that muscle” and “I am not afraid to achieve greatness.” The video is a psychedelic remix of the American dream, encouraging viewers to “put the work in” and become winners. Another piece, titled “The Beverly Show,” is a talk show where Mehl interviews her mother on her evolution from trophy wife to CEO to New Age guru. These characters glorify the transition from housewife to girl boss and promote the idea that nirvana is achieved by climbing what resembles the corporate ladder. A commercial for Mehl’s fictional perfume, “Asmehl by Amehl,” breaks up the episodes.
Mehl’s primary mode is a one-woman show, and she pushes that to the extreme by doing literally everything. Not only does she direct, shoot, and edit her videos, Mehl also stars in them, designs the props and sets, and animates. Humor is a key element in Mehl’s work. “When I’m in Midtown, it feels like the ads assume I have a lot of money, which is hurtful. Humor is the only way I can cope with the messages,” she says. “I can’t boycott capitalism; no one can opt-out. The only thing I can do is make a satire out of it.”
While in Times Square, you can also view Amanda Mehl’s video on the ZAZ 10’s Times Square billboard at the southeast corner of 7th Ave. and 41st St.
Amanda Mehl is an interdisciplinary artist and founder of the experimental fashion label Amehl. She works in various mediums, including fashion, film, sculpture, photography, digital, and performance art. She is based in Brooklyn, was born in Buenos Aires, and studied art in Tel Aviv.
www.amehlnyc.com | instagram.com/amanda.mehl/
PWA’s exhibition of Amanda Mehl’s new body of work reflects the gallery’s commitment to spotlighting underground artists who use digital tools to drive culture forward.
PWA is Sam Black and Alison Sirico.