Friday August 2, 2019
Kelcey Edwards/IRON GATE EAST and
James Salomon/SALOMON CONTEMPORARY
A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose:
Reimagining the Domestic
featuring work by
Syndey Albertini, Rachel Garrard
Terra Goolsby, Talia Levitt
Nicole Nadeau & Jo Shane
A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE
A chair has waited such a long time to be with its person. Through
shadow and fly buzz and the floating dust it has waited such a long time
to be with its person.
What it remembers of the forest it forgets, and dreams of a room where
it waits—Of the cup and the ceiling—Of the animate one.
—Russel Edson, “A Chair”
Gertrude Stein insisted a rose is a rose is a rose. And she was correct, because I say rose and you think of a rose. And yet, poet Russell Edson’s description of a chair as an object that “dreams of a room” where it “waits to be with its person” feels no less true. The same dichotomy exists with most familiar objects. Say, for example, a table.
I say table and you think of a table. But, like Edson’s chair, the table possesses its own kind of poetry. In any space, public or private, the table is often the central gathering point. It is where we congregate, where we seek out friends and family. Most rooms are naked without one. It is from across the table we have our most painful conversations with people with whom we will no longer share our table. We no longer require your services. I’m leaving you. He has passed away. In America, having a seat at the table is a metaphor for being allowed to participate in discussions where decisions are made.
As summer nears its end, most of us have sat around several tables decorated with vases full of blossoms as guests as well as hosts of our own gatherings—to feast, to laugh, to celebrate the season. We travel between homes and businesses, between chairs and tables and bouquets of different sizes, materials, shapes and colors. We visit family and friends and wake up in beds that are not our own. Perhaps, in our travels, we encounter a news story about displaced people huddled together in rooms without beds or tables or flowers.
A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose: Reimagining the Domestic features six artists whose works, despite the world they reference and their own objecthood, possess a mysterious, singular poetry. Working with a broad range of materials and in a variety of styles, these works differ in every way imaginable: palette, form, scale, technique. In each case, however, there is a disorienting sense of a recontextualization of the familiar—from the homes we visit to the bodies we inhabit—that is at once exhilarating and immensely satisfying.
Certain works, like Talia Levitt’s deceptively straightforward still life paintings, recontextualize domestic spaces in a playfully subversive manner with their skewed perspective and narrative layers. In Levitt’s painting, whether it’s a curtain or a coffee table or a bouquet, the viewer is often placed at an impossible angle to the subject as—through references to the act of making—the painting deconstructs itself. A table is a table, but it is not just a table, and it is not your table...although it feels like it could be.
In other instances, the works are more enigmatic and open to interpretation. The soft focus, flesh-toned abstract paintings of Rachel Garrard displayed alongside the fur-lined ceramic, cavernous sculptures of Terra Goolsby seem to reference the lines and forms of female genitalia as well as the objects that serve as metaphors for this physical aspect of womanhood—the blossoming orchid, the dark interior of a shell. They also build a visual poetry that speaks to a more intimate experience of domesticity. Perhaps these are the last images one sees before drifting off to sleep as the serene mind slips into the realm of monstrous dreams. Perhaps these are the first images one sees when one wakes—eyes still shut, reliving the last moments of the night before.
Nicole Nadeau’s bronze casts of packaging materials also relate to the body as object—our own vessels, with what the artist describes as “their perceived strength but undeniable fragility”. Still other works, such as the textile works and paintings of Sydney Albertini and installations of Jo Shane speak to the sublime act of transcending the commonplace through the manipulation of repurposed materials: a body made of yarn. An escape ladder to nowhere. The rose that has ceased to be a rose.
By reimagining the familiar, these artists have created space for us to pause and consider ways of seeing and ways of imagining. From the table where they sit to the table where we sit, perhaps over a glass of something hot or something cold, we are thinking about the things that matter most to us: the ways we see—the ways we choose to see—the decisions we want to make, the world we want to live in, who we are gathering with and why
- Kelcey Edwards, August 2019-2020