Project for Empty Space is pleased to present Incision, an exhibition of works by Chaya Babu, Christen Clifford, Camille Lee, and Katherine Toukhy. The multidisciplinary artists featured in the exhibition are part of the 2017/2018 Grab Back: Feminist In Residence program, and have been working at Project for Empty Space since autumn 2017.
Both metaphorically and physically speaking, the female body is often a site that evokes and provokes physical manipulation beyond its own control. Artists such as Barbara Kruger famously remind us that the female body is, in fact, a battleground. The female/female identified body is forced to contend with the chronic possibility of being the site for a form of violence, rupture, and forced manipulation. The exhibition Incision explores how the female body becomes the site for violence and vitality, and everything in between. It probes at the various methods and consequence of navigating the world as a female body. And, it subsequently confronts itself by challenging the very notion that the female body can be comprehended as merely just a body.
Incision is an exhibition comprised of four independent projects that extract the very personal experiences of each artist. Each experience(s) is flayed open and laid vulnerable for the sole purpose of contributing to the beautiful and frenzied cacophonous cry for empathy and justice. Chaya Babu’s work layers images of her recent myomectomy against a life of continuously evolving awareness of intersecting identities. The raw images of her healing laceration and hint of pubic hair are only obscured enough by bandages to remind the audience that this site of violence is one created with a purpose to heal and repair.
Christen Clifford’s interactive works present some of the most intimate intrusions into the female body. Two of her works are immersive interactive installations. A sound piece contained in a dark crevice of the gallery is an encounter with a form of ultraviolence and its consequences. The adjacent installation, a composition of pink mirrors and layered videos, evokes a sense of safety and beauty. It pushes the viewer to welcome the idea of the body beyond the societal constructs and expectations. Paired together, these two works present vastly different examples of how the female form is consumed and embraced within our culture.
Camille Lee and Katherine Toukhy’s works explore the ways in patriarchy metastasizes to obstruct the female body, and to challenge it at every turn. Lee’s piece reflects upon the experience of ‘becoming an American woman.’ The work pulls from the artist’s recent personal experience with navigating the immigration system. She unpacks the myriad of idealistic and almost unattainable expectations that she was presented with, and analyzes the deeper meaning behind what it means to be part of the American dream.
Katherine Toukhy’s soft-media installation explores body and identity within the context of statelessness and movement. Assembled in an aqueous wash of geographically ambiguous blues, her headless figures speak to the anonymity or erasure of humanity from the female form. Toukhy questions the repercussions of nationalistic violence, chaos, and upheaval as it pertains to the female form. The azure spread is indeterminate in it’s intention; perhaps the skull-less women exist in a space of serene amniotic transcendence, or maybe they are drowning within the tumult of an unknown sea. Perhaps they are both, as with so many of the works, existing in the space where both violence and healing are present within in one space- the female body.