September 15 – October 15, 2009
Artists: Sebrina Fassbender, Heide Hatry, Eunah Kim, Aki Sasamoto
Curated by Hyewon Yi
Opening Reception: Tuesday, September 15, 2009, 4:30 – 7:30 pm
Performance program: Saturday, October 10, 2009, 3 pm
The Amelie A. Wallace Gallery at SUNY College at Old Westbury is pleased to announce a group exhibition of four women artists whose artistic expressions emerge from traumatic experiences, either their own or those of others. Through their chosen media of sculpture, photography, performance, and video, these cutting-edge artists deliver intensely dark reflections on the human condition, transcending the seemingly unbearable through fictional narratives and rich imaginative constructs. They also offer deep insights into their own work, from firsthand observation of the grim reality of prostitutes to the fashioning of sculptural portraits made of animal skins.
Sebrina Fassbender (b.1977, U.S.) documents sex workers in New York City, creating remarkable social portraits of individuals whose private lives are intimately revealed, thanks to the trust established between the photographer and her subjects—a technique that participant-observer photographers such as Larry Clark and Nan Goldin pioneered in the 1970s. The women’s thin bodies, showing tattoos and needle marks, are often recorded in chaotic domestic environments where the subjects are seen alone or with their boyfriends. Their disturbing psychological, sexual, and bodily abuse is captured through the empathetic eyes of the artist. Fassbender orchestrates the discordant colors of the scenes, using artificial lighting and abrupt composition, conveying a haunting beauty and an intensely raw emotional experience. More than a hundred images will be presented in a slide show for this exhibition.
Heide Hatry (b. 1965, Germany) presents a series of photographs of puppet-like female heads made of untreated pig skins and eyes, raw meat, wigs, and clothing. The startlingly life-like sculptures are further enlivened by accompanying texts by female writers such as Mary Caponegro, Jennifer Belle, Heather Hartley, Can Xue, and Selah Saterstrom. The fictions offered by these women writers, describing each of the female personas created by Hatry, often reveal the darker side of life—violence, abuse, pain, illness, aging, death—occasionally offset by beauty, motherhood, and love. The daughter of a Bavarian pig farmer, Hatry has a long-standing affinity for meat as an artistic medium. Her observations on mortality, previously expressed in provocative performances, has culminated in this recent sculpture project wherein, like a taxidermist or a mortician, she creates an illusion of life.
Eunah Kim (b. 1973, Korea), who has traveled extensively and now resides in Cambridge, Mass., presents a wide range of conceptual sculptures inspired by ancient Egyptian art and medicine, Native-American culture, and shamanism. Works such as A Preserved Heart for the Use of Next Life (2005), featuring the picture of a heart placed over an ice box, and Casket (2004), made of animal bone cast inside white molded plaster, explore the notion of preserving life after death. Shortly after she made these works, Kim faced her own life-threatening illness. The resultant trauma to her body inspired her recent series Medallions (2009), in which miniature internal organs (liver, lungs, stomach, kidney, spleen) are cast in bronze and hung like medals on the wall, expressing her wish to restore strength to body organs that once were “humiliated” through a diminishment of function and physical power. Blood red color appears often in Kim’s work: red duct tape, for example, which she employs with great frequency, transforms ordinary objects into talismans and symbols of the vigor and vitality to which Kim aspires.
Aki Sasamoto (b. 1980, Japan) contributes remembering/modifying/developing, a performance that draws on memories of the intense weeks she spent as an eighteen-year-old patient in a mental hospital in Wales. A student at the time, with no contact with her parents, the young Sasamoto observed the mental patients’ peculiar behaviors, gathering impressions that she eventually developed into this work during her graduate school years at Columbia University. During her performance, Sasamoto constantly interacts with sculptural arrangements assembled from found objects. She choreographs tasks that resemble everyday activities while lecturing, drawing diagrams, throwing potatoes attached to bungee cords, and dragging objects on the floor. Wearing a green jumpsuit (a reminder of her hospital attire perhaps), she exudes athletic energy and nonsensical narratives, positioning herself somewhere between Dada and Fluxus actionism.
A reception to mark the opening of Body Trauma will be held between 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm on Tuesday, September 15, 2009. The performance by Aki Sasamoto is scheduled on Saturday, October 10, 2009, at 3 pm. The exhibition remains on view through October 15, 2009. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday between 12 pm and 5 pm, and by appointment.
The Wallace Gallery has arranged complimentary bus service to both the opening reception and the performance program. Guests will be picked up at 32nd Street and Park Avenue South near Chase Bank at 5 pm on Tuesday September 15, 2009 and at 2 pm on Saturday, October 10, 2009. As space is limited, please contact Hyewon Yi to reserve seats.
For further information about Body Trauma, please contact gallery director/curator Hyewon Yi at email@example.com or 646-421-5863.