What Can Be Seen – Group Show
SPRING/BREAK Art Show, New York, United States06 Mar 2018 - 12 Mar 2018
What Can Be Seen takes a look at, and participates in, the politics of visibility from multiple directions and shifts attention to the questions and ramifications of what can, and cannot, be seen.
ESMERALDA KOSMATOPOLOUS revisits Book Six of Homer’s Odyssey, which tells the story of how Odysseus is welcomed as a guest by King Alcinous, after he is shipwrecked on the island of Scheria. Naussicaa, the King’s daughter, is the first to help Odysseus by giving him clothes to cover his naked body and advice that allows him to secure the King’s favor. A (quatre) table(s) is a series of 4 videos from her larger project Chez Naussicaa that revisits the definition of ξενία (xenia) in the light of the current refugee situation in Greece by actualizing the practice of Ancient Greek hospitality and French Savoir-Vivre. The artist recreated the ancient guest-host relationship by inviting small groups of Greek locals, refugees, and expats to share anonymously home-made dinner in a traditional Greek home. The human interactions and personal stories that unfold during each meal became the starting point for a multimedia body of works exploring the revealing of the Self in relationship with the Other. Starting with one video in the first piece À (1) table(s), she superposed a second in À (2) table(s), a third in À (3) table(s), and ultimately a fourth in À (4) table(s). Among the gathered strangers, the same gestures, patterns, and rituals keep on repeating within any given dinner table. The layered videos of different days, during different performances, seem to continuously respond and interact with each other —as if all guest were part of one single table.
Similarly KELLY SINNAPAH MARY reinterprets the revered Martinican writer Aime Cesaire’s 1939 book Cahier d’un non retour au pays natal, translated as “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land,” to explore current stories about the Indian Diaspora in the French West Indies. Cesaire’s poem is considered a masterwork that mixes poetry and prose to express his ideas on the cultural identity of black Africans in a colonial setting. But to date it has had few echoes in contemporary culture. More than 160 years ago, Indian people were “recruited” from India to work on the plantations in the French West Indies, after the emancipation of black African slaves. Indian workers thought they would find good opportunities but instead they encountered deplorable work conditions, similar to slavery, in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Sinnapah Mary’s textile-based mixed media installation Notebook of No Return to the Native Land, challenges the possibilities of a return, of a home, of a land, of purity. Although the community she investigates is absent, hidden from mainstream culture, it is still present, active, and indefinable. In her installation she focuses on processes of domination that have torn thousands of men and women from the land of their birth and, although they were told that they could come back to India at the end of their contract, had to reconstruct their identities in the context of French, Caribbean, African and Indian cultures. Thus hair braiding and the use of botany and fabric, are essential metaphoric actions for identity reconstruction in this creole context.
Artist collective RADHA MAY’s installation When the Towel Drops, Vol 1, Italy, exposes the legitimizing power of censorship. In 2014 she went to Italy to view the film censorship archives that are housed at the Cineteca di Bologna. There she viewed scene after scene of clips that had been removed from publicly viewed cinema in Italy during the 1950’s and 1960s, and was drawn to the scenes of women expressing sexual desire, provocation and defiance in films such as Zabriskie Point by Michelangelo Antonioni, Brink of Life by Ingmar Bergman and Les Femmes by Jean Aurel starring Brigitte Bardot. Alongside the censored scenes, Radha May also obtained the official documents that justified their removal. With forty-two selected censored scenes re-cut into a new film that is indexed by the official documents that motivated these acts of censorship, Radha May presents an art installation that reveals a male-driven negotiation and determination about the representation of women and female sexuality in cinema.
Curator: Natasha Becker
SPRING/BREAK Art Show
Room: 23rd Floor, # 2339 & # 2340