Friday, 23 November 2007

Saya Woolfalk: No Place: Wonders from that World

Inspired by a year in Brazil, Saya Woolfalk's new work is a deceptively cute, motley investigation of otherness. The exhibition's title references Renaissance philosopher Sir Thomas More's Utopia, but Woolfalk's interpretation of "no place" is a postcolonial Candy Land populated with fuzzily fleeced and tropical calico-print creatures. Alongside this installation, a single-channel video features two brightly clad dancers in a bizarre, ritualistic duet to what sounds like a bossa nova-spiked Nintendo tune. Her works on paper, particularly the Seven Wonders series, are dreamy, symbol-laden landscapes that imagine an eroticized alternate world of fertility temples and colossal banana-draped monuments, set against backdrops of rainbows and puffy clouds.

[Intro from Saya Woolfalk website]

Ethnography of No Place
A series of short videos by Rachel Lears and Saya Woolfalk

Featuring: Georgette Maniatis, Alicia Ildefonso, Shaun Leonardo, Jean Barberis, Samara Gaev and Elisa Casinader
Narrator: Anaïs Alexandra Tekerian
Technical Support: Audrey K Tran

Ethnography of No Place is a series of collaborative works that document an imaginary world. Constructed from household materials (fabrics, sounds, gestures), the characters and stories evoke travel narratives, science fiction, and academic anthropology to rework tropes of sexuality, gender, and race. The name No Place is derived from the English word, “utopia,” coined by Thomas More from the Greek “no” (ou) and “place” (topos)--literally, no place.

Chapter 1: Self and Landscape. This video re-imagines desire and reproduction through the documentation of an Eden-like environment. The Self and the Landscape collapse into one another and negotiate forms of activity and passivity through their sensual interaction. Self and Landscape premiered at Artists Space Gallery, New York, NY in May 2007.

Chapter 2: Death and Kin. In this video, the Self has aged and reached the end of her life. In gestures evoking the Butoh performance of Kazuo Ohno, she constructs her own tombstone and her relatives mourn her passing. The sentiment of loss breaks down the linearity of time, until finally the body transforms into landscape once again.

Chapter 3: Portal. The beings of No Place use the detritus of our world to construct a portal that would give us access to theirs if only we could imagine how to use it.

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