Home/Body explores relationships: with our own bodies, with the bodies that are no longer present in our lives, and with the truth of death. American culture at large enacts a denial of death, and of aging- two universal inevitabilities. How, then, are we to reckon with these facts? With the unstoppable force of time, and the hard fact of mortality.
Rachael Zur’s expanded paintings and sculptural pieces are both mournful and celebratory; they layer hard edges with soft textiles, stratified and complex in their textures, the way grief is complex. They act as objects which are inhabited by memory: the touch of a hand, the scent of lilac perfume in an empty room, the remembered sound of laughter. They also act as portraits, not of the missing loved one, but of those who remain. Zur’s objects function in the durée of memory: they are immediate, but also physical manifestations of a past that collapses into the future, stretching out into the unknown. As objects, they allow us to cling to what was, while reminding us that it can never again be.
Ruth Ross confronts the more immediate reality of age and breakdown of the body, as it is inhabited, and the lived experience of that process. Like Zur, Ross employs textiles and embroideries, long associated with idealized femininity. She depicts surgical interventions as stuffed, doll-like figures; the supportive structures of undergarments become iron cages for the body, attempting to hold in its wildness, its vagaries. The only constant in the body is change; Ross examines this with a keen, sharp sense of criticism, but also with whimsy, a sense that the body is both betraying, and playing a great joke on, its inhabitant.
Seen together these bodies of work engage with some of the most terrifying, and most often denied, aspects of human experience: loss, grief, age, and death. They do this in a way that is simultaneously inviting, and subtly frightening. They confront the way the body and its eventual decay is erased in American culture, laying out our fears for us to examine closely.
See here, the ghosts of ourselves. Let them haunt you.
Carlye Sina Frank