Twosome is the first museum exhibition in Israel of the work of renowned French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. The title of the show derives from a large-scale sculptural installation Bourgeois created in 1991, which was first presented in DISLOCATIONS, a group exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art that same year. Consisting of two oil tanks, the computerized sculpture is mechanized so that the smaller tank, moving on a track, travels perpetually in and out of the larger tank. The movement of the piece may suggest the act of copulation, but for Bourgeois the continual expulsion and reacceptance of the smaller tank symbolized the complex relationship between mother and child.
As Twosome attests, Bourgeois’s art oscillates between such dualities as abstraction and figuration, male and female, conscious and unconscious, pleasure and pain, architecture and the body, guilt and forgiveness, and revenge and reparation. Bourgeois’s diaries and writings, many of which were made during her long period of psychoanalysis, confirm the intensity and conflicting nature of her feelings, and the pervading sense of anxiety, guilt, and aggression which led to a constant need for reparation and reconciliation. In her work, such psychological polarities – passive and active, love and hate, murder and suicide – are given formal and symbolic sculptural equivalents.
Bourgeois has stated that many of her pieces express the relationship between self and other, or between the individual and the group. These dynamics originate in the primal bond between mother and child, which provides the template from which all future relationships develop. Her various representations of the couple, though bound together and eternally entwined, express a lifelong fear of separation and abandonment. The Janus series, named for the Roman god who faces both past and future, signifies Bourgeois’s concern with the passage of time, the loss of memory, and the boundary between the real and the imagined. The extended tongues in several of her figures convey a longing for intimacy with the other, while the fear of rejection transforms them into sharpened daggers. The emotional tension in Bourgeois’s work arises from these contradictory impulses, which are often held together within a single form.
According to the logic of Bourgeois’s symbolic world, the smaller tank in Twosome represents the child and the larger tank its mother. The metal chain linking the two is the umbilical cord that is never cut, signifying their eternal bond. If the smaller tank’s outward movement indicates an attempt at separation, its movement inward, toward the larger tank, may be read as a return to the womb. This ceaseless motion represents the life experience, and is echoed again in Bourgeois’s monumental Passage Dangereux, a piece from her “Cell” series which explores a young girl’s rites of passage (birth, fear, love, sex, death). Yet while Bourgeois developed these themes throughout her career, she did not want her work to be read as an analysis of her own biography. Instead, her pieces are expressions of enduring truths about our universal human condition:
It is not an image I am seeking. It’s not an idea. It is an emotion you want to recreate, an
emotion of wanting, of giving and of destroying.
Weeds of Indifference
September 8 – October 8, 2017
SEPTEMBER 9–OCTOBER 15, 2017
OPENING: SATURDAY, SEP 9, 6–8 PM
SITUATIONS is pleased to announce Brooklyn-based artist Becca Albee’s solo exhibition prismataria, opening September 9 and on view through October 15. Featuring color photographs displayed in a specially designed installation with kinetic light projections and diffused scent, it is the third in a suite of exhibitions exploring the intersection of color theory with feminist practice.
In several of the photographs, Albee has placed color photographic gels, seasonal-color-analysis swatches or color-matching cards, on the pages of textbooks from “Women’s Health & Healing,” a course she took as an undergraduate at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. As she was quoted in Artforum earlier this year, “Its emphasis on grassroots activism and practical self knowledge had a profound impact on me, as I was studying feminist history and was very involved in the riot-grrrl milieu of Olympia.” Each photograph contains a carefully created system to connect and/or highlight the content, color and design – suggesting a revisiting and possibly revising of these urgent materials. One image pictures the dedication page from the book,A New View of a Woman’s Body, a second wave feminist health book, with the dedicatees listed by first name only, a list that reads like a poem.
Other photographs were taken inside the Prismatarium, a large circular room (originally a “ladies’ lounge”) in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse, a building constructed in San Francisco by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. The Prismatarium was designed by Hilaire Hiler, an artist, psychologist, musician, and color theorist. Hiler’s mural in the room begins with a custom color wheel of thirty hues at the center of the ceiling, and it radiates outward, extending down the walls in bands of neutral gray. Some of Albee’s photographs focus on sections of the color wheel mural and she has painted the gallery walls in similar gray bands, extending them even across her photographs’ frames.
Installed on the ceiling of the exhibition space Albee has created a light source – a revolving cylinder with color gels that slowly rotate around the gallery. Based on an unrealized light fixture element of Hiler’s Prismatarium, the fixture bathes the photographs in cyan, magenta, and yellow light. The effect activates her pictures of Hiler’s color wheel and the color elements in her feminist-textbook photos. Instead of using the gels in the traditional way — over the camera lens or flash — Albee has moved them into the space occupied by the viewer. And by refusing to present these textbooks as artifacts, she demonstrates their enduring practical and political value at a moment when feminist clinics are diminishing and healthcare and bodies are under attack.
BECCA ALBEE was born in Portland, ME and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies including MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Blue Mountain Center, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, and The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Past shows include solo exhibitions at Et al., San Francisco, CA; 356 S. Mission Rd., Los Angeles; Lump Gallery & Projects, Raleigh, NC; and group exhibitions at Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Art in General, Brooklyn, NY; CUE Foundation, New York; CAM, Raleigh, NC; Contemporary Calgary, Alberta. For this exhibition Albee was awarded a PSC-CUNY Research Award and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.
SITUATIONS is located at 127 Henry Street, New York, NY 10002 (between Rutgers and Pike Street). Hours of operation are Thursday – Sunday 12-6pm a
Selected Video Works: 2000-2013
September 9 – October 8, 2017
Directed by David Byrne
Title Sequence by M&Co
RIP Kenneth Jay Lane