November 26, 2016–January 21, 2017
Opening Friday, November 25, 8pm
In her discussion of the importance of friendship as a form of solidarity in cultural production, artist Céline Conderelli posed the question “How do you want to inhabit the world, in whose company, and upon what terms?” Jasmine Baetz and Christian Vistan have continued to work in a way that has foregrounded their friendship, guiding how to speak to and engage with the often fraught terrain of personal identity and histories. Their work in Perla/Pervize echoes Conderelli’s proposition of friendship as an organizing social principle in forging bonds and structures of support to enable a means to explore mutual associations and affinities.
With Vistan living and working in Vancouver, British Columbia and Baetz in Boston, Massachusetts, distance and proximity have guided their collaborative work through which the artists frequently consider geographic borders as legal jurisdictions and sovereign states that determines or denies access and movement between countries. In this body of work, limitation becomes a material in itself. Repetitive forms mark an attempt to create and locate a psychic transformative agency through material and newly formed familial bonds. The title of the exhibition Perla/Pervize takes the names of family members as an initiation of a matriarchal incantation; Perla, Christian’s mother and Pervize, Jasmine’s grandmother.
Pilipino Fainting Filipino Painting Pilipino Fainting Filipino Painting Pilipino Fainting Filipino Painting
The repetition of these words in their type set pattern almost appears to mimic code, an immersive physical poetic intervention. Assonance as repetition emboldens the words to take on a perfunctory incantation, where the limitation of these four words within themselves becomes the material. They bring together two bodies; that of the artist Christian Vistan, and that of his mother Perla. The words personify and rehearse the repetitiveness of labour becoming the embodiment of Christian and Perla’s daily rituals and tasks. They command concentration and acknowledgement of being present in the moment, an attentive activity in their work that demonstrates respect for our environments and social relationships that we nurture. Perla’s drawings punctuate this repetition. Read yourself into the world. Slowly. Carefully. Precisely.
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Read, each and every word at your desired pace. Pilipino Fainting Filipino Painting Pilipino Fainting Filipino Painting Pilipino Fainting Filipino. It seems crass to reduce such complexity for the purposes of efficiency however functional they may be. O.F.W. a three-letter acronym that in its brevity suggests a confident familiarity, devoid of an emotive core, also working to obscure the entanglements. Overseas-Filipino-Worker. The formation of these three words locates this three-letter acronym within a very specific lived experience, along the intersections of class, race and gender. Whether these work conditions are temporary or not, the body is now a diasporic body. Words shaped through repetition reveal a working rhythm attached to a body that is stretched, a body stretched and worn across continents and seas. What are the narratives that we embody as we write ourselves into the world?
While the limitation of words forms the material basis in Vistan’s work, the limitations of the material of clay determines Baetz’s work. Third shift signifies a revision, a reworking of the same form; a retelling, or the production of a new version. The material fragility and suspension of Third shift defies its assumed lightness and instead the ceramic carries weighted histories. The haphazardly forged links and bonds, cloaked in a rust like surface, tenuously connected resemble chain mail. The mass of ceramic chains and the repetitiveness of the forms implies continuity, shackles or a burden carried, wrought in clay and fire. An arduous desire and measured reenactment guided by hands is evident within its production; proposing invocations of embodied forms of knowledge, histories, herstories, and narratives shared. Third shift maintains an openness that allows for vulnerability to permeate. What is it to acknowledge and embrace vulnerability as we read and write ourselves into the world?
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A singular Dr Scholl’s sandal (which belonged to Baetz’s grandmother Pervize) rendered in clay, sits by the door. The sandal is without a companion. Disembodied cacti limbs, skeletal in form endured the heat of a kiln. While these remnants of broken bodies, missing companions and absent ties of kinship might assume narratives of loss and mourning; deterioration and production start to fold into one another creating spaces of healing and renewal. In his poem Pilipino Fainting Filipino Painting Vistan mentions “The labour of painting often hides itself”. The mass of entanglements permits not only fragments of a narrative, but fragments of forms start to emerge and bind themselves together through familial ties of friendship that were not there previously.
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Perla and Christian; Pervize and Jasmine; Jasmine and Christian; Perla and Pervize…
1 Céline Conderelli, The Company She Keeps, London: Bookworks, 2014, p. 116.