Thursday, December 22, 2011

hey baby, can I be your guardian?

I recently got reminded of the work by NYC artist Elana Adler. She was in an exhibit that I curated last year. The work I had known at the time was mostly from her You Are My Duchess series.

She describes the series:
This series of thirty-two samplers is intended to be provocative and evoke emotion. It is a contemporary feminist interpretation of women’s work and an objectification of my personal experience. Each captures a moment, giving these words a visual presence, a power, and a state of concreteness. These words were hurled casually and heard quickly but required hours of time-consuming, careful stitching.

The physically delicate, traditionally feminine, form of the piece engages the viewer and confronts him/ her with a sweetness that may mask its crassness and vulgarity.

You read one sampler. Perhaps you are amused, but as you continue reading and consider the body as an entire collection, the response changes. The inherent filth emerges. It is a beautification of an assault. Perhaps in the moment these statements are meant to compliment, but most don’t find vulgar, highly sexualized statements whispered or screamed at them by random strangers complimentary. Rather, they are an invasion of personal space.

The body of samplers is a contemporary and unexpected response to
unsolicited and unwanted attention. They reduce the complex emotional experience of being heckled by catcalls to a simple piece of women’s work.

As a woman who has lived in NYC for 5 years. I felt the work immediately- walking down 4th avenue in Brooklyn feels like you are walking a catwalk where the entire audience is crude and rude men. Elana's tender stitches and mass collection of "calls" puts the experience into a thoughtful context.

I am especially drawn to some recent pieces on her website where she combines fiber materials with hard materials.

In stuck a form is both attached and exuding from a traditional chair. Stuck in this space. An entire series of works in this vain of metaphor would be awesome.

In guardian she takes a hand knitted animal (perhaps a sheep) form and attaches it to a cast iron form resulting in an interesting sculpture of very different surfaces. Kind of like mixing your favorite childhood stuffed animal in with a knight in armor. (2 guardians)

Elana is a young artist and is still finding consistency in her work and voice but from remembering her personality and being reminded of her intelligent take on things I look forward to seeing what she does next.

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