Shoshana Wayne Gallery is pleased to present, "Hands at Work" by Sabrina Gschwandtner. This is the Los Angeles-based artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery.
"Hands at Work" is a study of hands, craft, and montage, composed of eleven quilts constructed from 16 mm film presented in light boxes, and a large-scale video. The film footage comes from a collection of 16 mm educational films that were de-accessioned from the Fashion Institute of Technology and given to Gschwandtner by Anthology Film Archives. Since 2009, when she first began cutting and sewing them into configurations based on popular American quilt motifs, these films have served as rich source material for the artist. The films describe the making of textiles for cultural, political and daily uses.
Building on her previous exhibition, "Film Quilts" (2015), Gschwandtner continues to explore possibilities precipitated by the demise of celluloid and the proliferation of the digital moving image. As Gschwandtner’s work traces the transition from analog to digital technologies, it explores tactility, the relationship between still and moving images, and the often opposing spheres of craft and concept in art.
For this exhibition, Gschwandtner has selected footage of hands at work—weaving, knitting, sewing, dyeing cloth, tying string, spinning yarn, and feeding fabric into machines. The artist’s decision to focus on hands, the way they move, perform their craft, and enact their labor, underscores the action of handcraft as both physical and metaphorical. There are pairs of works, signifying left and right hands laboring, and the making and unmaking of meaning. Gschwandtner’s work emphasizes undervalued female labor, paying homage to the historical lineage of female film editors who stitched together movies.
While Gschwandtner’s film quilts present photography as a physical, three-dimensional site, the artist’s video connects women’s work and formal histories of abstraction with digital technology. For this piece, Gschwandtner transferred film footage to video and edited laboring hands, film leader and film credits into 35 layers that form a triangle quilt in motion. Displayed on an Ultra-high-definition monitor, the piece ruminates on the roles of materiality and tactility in a technologically mediated future.
Sabrina Gschwandtner has exhibited widely in the United States as well as internationally at institutions including the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC; the Museum of Arts and Design in New York; and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Her film quilts are currently on view in permanent collection exhibitions at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the RISD Museum, and the Mint Museum. Gschwandtner’s work is also included in the permanent collections of the MFA Boston and the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, among many other public and private collections worldwide. Gschwandtner received a BA from Brown University and an MFA from Bard College.
The artist wishes to thank director Pat Ferrero for use of footage from her films "Quilts in Women's Lives " (1980) and "Hearts and Hands" (1987). The films are in active distribution and are available from New Day Films.