Continuant at Noysky Projects
“An exploration of retaining identity, even though the body’s state and relations may change.”
Through February 17
By Lorraine Heitzman
Currently at Noysky Projects, CONTINUANT features work by four Los Angeles-based artists: Camilla Taylor, Chelle Barbour, Sydney Mills and Jaklin Romine. Organized by Sacha Baumann, it is a concise and thoughtfully curated exhibit that looks at the ways we remain constant despite both outward and inner changes. Each artist takes on an aspect of the self, memory, the physical body and identity, and filters it through their personal experience. The different states of metamorphosis are imagined through Taylor’s sculptures and prints, Barbour’s collages, Mills’ photographs and Romaine’s printed banner.
Camilla Taylor pairs delicate intaglio prints and engravings with her more robust glass and ceramic sculptures displayed on steel pedestals. The figures in her 8 x 10 inch prints are intimate, but intentionally anonymous. In one image, a male figure performs a mysterious task with a length of thread and in Reach, the figure is truncated with a single arm stretched across his body. This man is absent lower limbs and Taylor, with the most minimal detail, conveys a forlorn expression. In Lost Profile and Loss Profile II, an androgynous looking figure is shown turned away, her expression and circumstances undecipherable. Yet, despite all of their impersonal qualities, these four images are poignant and somewhat despairing. They have a stillness and quietness about them that is quite different than her three-dimensional work. In Spider, a complex ceramic sculpture of conjoined hands, Taylor summons up, in miniature, a little of the anguish of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais coupled with Louise Bourgeois’ surrealist tribute to her mother in the guise of a spider. Like most of her work, Spider is wonderfully expressive and is able to achieve a great depth of emotion in an economical way.
Chelle Barbour contributes several collages that present and re-imagine black African-American women, emphasizing qualities of strength and femininity. Contemplation depicts a woman in tune with nature, comprised of moths and butterflies with tendrils of tree limbs making a halo of arteries, or a fanciful afro. With an enlarged eye that dominates her face, this woman may be lost in thought, as the title suggests, but she also looks fiercely determined. Guarding Hope is a more satisfying collage, as Barbour integrates her portrait with a vibrant woven backdrop, grounding her figure with texture and ethnographic references. Here the subject is depicted as a warrior, including a shield, sword, mask and helmet, hinting at a lineage of strong black women. In this case, the more Barbour infuses into her collages, the richer they become and the more they succeed.
In Sydney Mills’ prints, she exults in the fleshy malleability of the human body. Although her medium is two dimensional, she manages to capture the weight and feel of the corporeal body in photographs that are in turn fetishistic and didactic. Her images are saccharine, bubblegum pink, gooey, and at times antiseptic. While Soft Tissue #5 and Soft Tissue #6 both borrow from the advertising trope of female hands and products, BRB_TBD_IRL_PSD seems organic until you notice that the mass of viscous pink matter is made up of electronic devices, such as smart phones, cords and DVDs. Mills seems to ask, “Are we becoming inhuman, or are our devices becoming human?”
Jaklin Romine’s digital print on fabric, Opened Up, drapes casually against the back wall of the gallery. An image of a woman’s tattooed hands, perhaps belonging to the artist, is enlarged many times over to dwarf the people standing in front of her work. The softness of the print provides a layered meaning, one that can be interpreted in different ways depending on its changing form, and though the activity that the hands are engaged in is not clear, Romine plays with the mystery using material and scale to her advantage.
Baumann complements CONTINUANT with the new release of her publication, FULL BLEDE Issue #7: The Continuant. Copies are available at Noysky Projects through the duration of the show.