Eleanor Harwood Gallery is pleased to present Differently Structured Possibilities, our second solo exhibition by Bay Area artist Dana Hemenway.
In Differently Structured Possibilities Hemenway considers everyday utilitarian objects that help to form our built environments. Hemenway’s practice is rooted in the excavation and elevation of utilitarian objects to make visible what has become habituated. The act of uncovering these invisible structures is analogous to breaking down and revealing less tangible systems that keep power allocated unfairly, specifically as it relates to gender.
In new wall and floor-based sculptures, Hemenway references textile-based craft forms such as weaving and rug hooking in her work. However she incorporates materials that are not traditionally associated with those traditions. In the work, lights and cords are woven through ceramics or the gallery wall. In other pieces, fibers and aircraft cables encased in industrial tubing are hooked through rigid dimensional ceramic forms. The infrastructure of the work is featured as an aesthetic element, emphasizing the relationship between the stand-alone works and the gallery’s architecture.
In the early phases of preparing for this exhibition, Hemenway became increasingly fascinated with a diverse array of utilitarian and aesthetic associations, not only with the objects, but the planes of the spaces they inhabit as well. The artist states: “The walls, floors, and ceilings we inhabit tend to be prescribed for specific functions––horizontal planes suggest utilitarian items, such as light fixtures and rugs, and the vertical planes imply items with aesthetic purposes. The same object presented on a different plane could cause a shift in how it could be appreciated and how it is valued. When these subtle shifts occur and aesthetic items move to the floor, or functional items let go of their utility and travel to the wall, how might this upset what we take for granted and allow possibilities to emerge? Perhaps it can offer a glimpse of an alternative outside of the omnipresent structure built environments impose?”
A critique of the harsh, but at times alluring, rhetoric of minimalism is present in these exhibited works, as is an homage to the women sculptors adjacent to or whom followed that movement—specifically, looking at those that incorporated fiber based craft techniques into their sculpture. Hemenway’s works offer visual, material, and process nods to artists of these respective movements, such as the fluorescent lights of Dan Flavin, the tile patterns of Carl Andre, and the use of rugs and hook rug techniques of Eva Hesse and Harmony Hammond.
Two performances accompany the exhibition. Hemenway has invited choreographer Lauren Simpson and experimental sound artist, Matt Robidoux to creatively collaborate and respond to the sculptures. They activate the works from their usual still and silent state, ultimately endowing them with a sense of human assisted agency.
Lauren Simpson Dance presents Improvisations with Differently Structured Possibilities with choreography and performance by Arletta Anderson. Five short dances based on prepping, measuring, looping, repeating, and relating. Matt Robidoux, Sally Decker, and Mitch Stahlmann present Sonifying Differently Structured Possibilities, a multichannel audio performance using EMF sound emitted from the lights in Hemenway’s sculptures as a starting point for processed improvisation.
The title Differently Structured Possibilities, is taken from a passage in the essay Sculpture in the Expanded Field by art critic and theorist Rosalind Krauss. She relates the phrase to practices emerging in a post-minimalist era that transversed traditional boundaries of art disciplines to expand the modernist definition of sculpture: “Sculpture is rather only one term on the periphery of a field in which there are other, differently structured possibilities. And one has thereby gained the ‘permission’ to think these other forms.”.
This passage promotes a sense of release and relief, which allows the artist to see, as if through peripheral vision, ever-altering perspectives of the structures around us.