On Belonging and the Void Between
Curated by Asha Ganpat
Gallery Aferro, Main Gallery
July 8th – August 31st, 2017
Opening Reception July 8th, 7-10pm
This exhibition is a selection of works about the nature of belonging and a look to the vacuous and vulnerable experience of being out of place. Without a sense of belonging, we are adrift in a sea of otherness. Of the ways we may untether from familiarity, the shift in becoming an outsider can shake the foundation of our very sense of self.
Sometimes is it desire that draws us out of what we know and into the unknown. “The Kissing Wall” by Ronit Levin Delgado, is an act of adoration. In this piece, it is the dream that she attempts to kiss awake and bring to life, each kiss a prayerful wish, and in her performance as a stand-in for us all, Levin Delgado renders sensual the connection between self and home. Belonging may not always be what we desire most. Mahtab Pedrami’s wall installation “From Guinea to New Guinea” is made of unfired terracotta vessels with blue silk birds. The vessels house the birds, and in repetition, represent a section of microcosm exposing the temporal and powerless schemes of living existence. Pedrami entraps the birds through the vessels’ immobility, limiting the flight and life of the winged creatures.
Sky Kim’s polymer clay sculptures draw attention to the body through disjointed and dysmorphic forms, seemingly tender and alive with life. The red tint in Kim’s delicate objects read as soreness and invoke a sense of the wrongness when a body is swollen and attempting to reject something that does not feel right. Her sculptures draw our attention to our own bodies and show us forms where our bodies could no longer feel like our own.
In domesticity, there are rigid stereotypes, demanding and inflexible. What victims are women in this inculcated role? How many live lives of pretense, going through the motions to fulfill expectations? In “Diamonds and Pearls” by Donna Conklin King, the symbols of a lasting marriage are turned gesture of suffering, as broken glass and fake pearls fill the cups of a pair of plush velvet-lined knee pads. King represents the burden of wifely duties again in, “You Made Your Bed, Now Sleep in It”, a bare box spring coil bed stuffed with lint flowers and a draped by a thin fabric. The flowers become precious in their placement, although in truth a collection of the ick and iota removed from the dirty clothes and fabrics of the home. Alternately, in embrace of the traditional responsibilities of wife and mother, “Domestic Majesty” and “Domestic Party” by Suzie Tuchman are two free-standing dresses, a cocktail dress and an elongated gown. They are two of the costumes of womanhood made from steel wool, a symbol for cleaning, one of the main roles often a task performed by women in marriage.
Farideh Sakhaeifar tells stories of belonging through photographs of material objects. Her series “Closets” and “Pending” depict opposing circumstances. In “Closets,” the portraits are not of people themselves, but of their things, organized and stored, visible in compositions with closet doors agape and all-exposed. These are the closets of people who dwell in those houses, with roots laid and a home made. In a disturbing acknowledgement of the loss of belonging, Sakhaeifar’s eerie series “Pending” gives us appropriated images of Syrian refugees capturing the heartrending trudge and trek of escape. However, Sakhaeifar has digitally removed all of the refugees, erasing them entirely, leaving the viewer only barren landscapes and trails of hovering personal items, the only things left in their possession from what was once a full life full of things.
When feeling out of place, there is often heightened vigilance for safety. Gwen Charles’ installation and performance titled “Safety Kiosk” provides viewers with a chance to borrow a safety vest to protect against unforeseen disaster. Her piece humorously takes on the challenge to help viewers be proactive in safety while in the gallery. Charles also presents two videos. In “Exhaustion Storage” a woman is sealed and trapped in Tupperware, lying alone in a shallow opening. A claustrophobia grows as minutes pass while the figure extends her limbs to the ends of the limited space. There is futility in the entrapment, a stifling of being where one should not be. In the video titled “Venetian Blinds,” we are faced with a representation of the other. We see a woman without expression raising and lowering white blinds, placing and removing a barrier between us. She just watches and stares, alienating the viewer with the lack of connection. The blinds become the line dividing us and them, inside and out, the viewer forced to the outside.
From the series Bombay vs. New York, two pairs of photographs by Nisha Sondhe present comparisons of everyday life. We see women beating laundry against rocks alongside a lines of machines in a laundromat with an idle patron. Also are pair of the inside of train cars, a nyc subway and one from India. A mere matter of a change of location or viewer and each pair are interchangeable in the polarity of the known and unknown.
Three shaman figures referencing the Selknam tribe of Argentina, loiter the walls in obscurity. Made by Elisa Pritzker, the canvas figures are the memory of a people who no longer have a place to belong as their tribe is now extinct. The viewer may see her future self mirrored in the shaman, for our mortality demands that we cannot always belong here.
Cover image by Donna Conklin King
Curated by Evonne M. Davis
Gallery Aferro, Liminal Gallery
July 8th – August 31st, 2017
Opening Reception July 8th, 7-10pm
Emma Wilcox is a photographer concerned with environmental justice, land usage, eminent domain, and the role of individual memory in the creation of local history. Her solo exhibitions include Where it Falls, The Print Center, Philadelphia, PA and William Patterson University Galleries, Wayne, NJ, 2012, Emma Wilcox, 2010 at Gitterman Gallery, New York, NY, Salvage Rights, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT, 2009 and Forensic Landscapes, Jersey City Museum, 2007. She is the recipient of a Harpo Foundation Grant, a NoMAA Creative Grant, a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship for photography, the Camera Club Of NY residency, the Newark Museum Residency and was a core participant in Night School at the New Museum in 2008. Her work has been reviewed and featured in Art In America, American Suburb X, and the New Yorker’s photo blog, Photo Booth, Women in Photography, Low Life, Black and White Magazine, and others. She has written for Bomb Magazine, Zing Magazine, and Influence. She participated in Emerge 7, Aljira, Newark, NJ and AIM 29, Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY. She is also co-founder, with Evonne M. Davis, of Gallery Aferro, a Newark, NJ alternative space. She lives by the river.
Wilcox writes “The work here isn’t new, consisting of images made from roughly 2005 – 2012. It hasn’t been much exhibited in Newark, which it depicts primarily though not exclusively. A “backwards view” has various meanings; either a retrograde, uninformed opinion, or accessing what is past, either visually or intellectually. It feels appropriate given events both local and national to consider what it is to remember, and to retain a record, whether visual, textual, or otherwise. What do you remember that has disappeared from view?”
She is interested in the density of the landscape: chemically, visually, textually. This density of markings includes human bodies, geological timekeeping, stories told in bars, news archives, and EPA documents. She makes photographs at or near night, on foot or via helicopter, and within a 5-mile radius of Newark. She makes photographs of things that can always be found, and are always about to vanish.
Elevator Music 3: Studio Sounds
Curated by Dahlia Elsayed
Gallery Aferro, 2nd Floor Installation
October 21st – December 17th, 2016
Opening Reception October 21st 5-9pm
Visiting artists in their studios is a great pleasure for many reasons – seeing works in progress, learning about a process, hearing an artist talk about their ideas. But there is also a voyeuristic aspect to the studio visit – peeking at scribbled notes and sketches, opened books that are lying around, the sounds or smells, revealing the influences on work which may leave no trace in the finished product.
As artists we make things that go out into the world and often live in sanitized, pristine environments of galleries or institutions, disconnected from their physical space of creation. As a curator, Dahlia Elsayed is often equally interested in the conditions of the making of the work as much as the work itself. What does that studio look like? Smell like? Feel like? Sound like?
For this show Dahlia was interested in what artists listen to while working and how the soundscape of a studio might shape the work they make. The participating artists were asked to think about what they hear while working. Was there an artist/station/podcast on heavy rotation or some music they always come back to? Or is it just the ambient sounds of an environment and the sounds of making work? Is there any specific kind of soundscape conducive to working? And what do other studios sound like in different places?
The 14 artists represent a wide range of mediums and approaches, and are working in varied locations- from San Francisco to Istanbul, Brooklyn to Berlin. Elsayed wanted to bring the sounds of those studios into this intimate space, for a shared asynchronous visit to listen in on them working, to hear the invisible soundtrack behind the work we see silently months later.
Anne Louise Blechner, Copenhagen, Denmark
Suzan Batu, Istanbul, Turkey
Silvina Der-Meguerditchian, Berlin, Germany
Aiham Dib, Damascus, Syria
Shady ElNoshakty, Cairo, Egypt
Echo Eggebrecht, Pittsburgh, PA
Mitra Azar, Nomadic Practice
Lauren Kelley, New York, NY
Asuka Ohsawa, San Francisco, CA
Shaw Osha, Olympia, WA
Anne Marte Overaa, Malmo, Sweden
Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Brooklyn, NY
Michael Rodriguez, New York, NY
Vitus Shell, Monroe, LA