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A Cryptic Dance Between Understanding and Incomprehension

A Cryptic Dance Between Understanding and Incomprehension

A Cryptic Dance Between Understanding and Incomprehension

Set up view of Finish Over Finish at Joan, 2022 (photograph by Josh Schaedel, picture courtesy the artist and JOAN, Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES — In a 2017 interview with Bomb journal, multidisciplinary artist Steffani Jemison touched upon her relationship to abstraction. She approaches it “as a verb,” one which expresses “a want to retain area past description.” Working throughout a spread of media, from drawings and movies to efficiency and writing, Jemison explores how opacity and withdrawal can and have activated liberatory prospects by creating areas that escape our conventional modes of communication. In Finish Over Finish, the Brooklyn-based artist’s exhibition of current work on view at JOAN, movies, drawings, and sculptures band collectively to type a cryptic dance between understanding and incomprehension. This dance made me take into account the bounds of language, and the way it works alongside completely different modes of expression, from the bodily to audiovisual.

Steffani Jemison, “Tumbler” (2021), aluminum, electrical gear motor, belt, 3D printed nylon, rubber, PET, water, ceramic media, grit, and cleaning soap, 17 x 17 x 10 inches (photograph by Josh Schaedel, courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New York)

Jemison performs with JOAN’s industrial structure, leaning into its open qualities whereas additionally shifting the area to create hidden pockets. One of many drawings from an untitled sequence, which show sparse, gestural markings on discovered glass tabletops, is tucked away in a nook close to the window. The audio of “Toss” (2021), a video created in the course of the pandemic and the centerpiece of the exhibition, fills the gallery, making its presence recognized lengthy earlier than encountering its supply. Its sound merges with the ambient drone of one other work, a sequence of three sculptures referred to as “Tumblers” (2021). Rock tumblers easy out their contents, that are previewed on a shard-like plinth in the course of the gallery, adorned with bits of ceramics, {hardware}, and pennies.

Steffani Jemison, “Tumblers,” element (2022), industrial glass, {hardware}, ceramics, pennies, shards of a automobile windshield (photograph by Josh Schaedel, courtesy the artist)

In “Toss,” Jemison collaborated with gymnast and artist Alexis Web page (who competed on the US nationwide crew at 13), which marks the third time the artist has used video to comply with and interact with a specific artist’s motion observe. Web page performs a sequence of strikes associated to rhythmic gymnastics and tumbling, together with flips, tosses, and traps, utilizing discovered and on a regular basis objects as her props. As she reckons with the completely different weights of a twig and a wig head, Web page considers ideas of fluency and development, and the way they relate to her personal physicality in a voiceover. At one level, she reveals her want to “transfer with out considering,” the place motion and being resembles a free flowing stream. Her musings are intercut with musical interludes whereas the slowed-down digicam spins and careens, the viewer positioned within the perspective of the objects tossed by Web page. Watching Web page use her physique to specific what can’t be captured in language made me meditate on what it meant to maneuver by means of the world free and unencumbered by nervousness or concern.

Steffani Jemison, “In Succession” (2019), HD video, black and white, sound, 18:19 minutes (photograph by Josh Schaedel, picture courtesy the artist and JOAN, Los Angeles)

“In Succession” (2019) continues Jemison’s investigations into the resistive energy of the abstracted area. Within the black and white video, 4 actors observe a free choreography of stillness and help as they use one another’s limbs to type a human pyramid. Introduced in a split-screen format, Jemison rotates the 2 photographs in order that their tops now meet within the center, increasing the filmic area as an alternative of fracturing it. The actors’ garments, arms, and faces blur into one another, forcing the viewer to reorganize their sense of time and area. 

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Steffani Jemison, “In Succession,” nonetheless (2019), HD video, black and white, sound, 18:19 (picture courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New York)

Like “Toss” and the opposite work, “In Succession” is knowledgeable by Jemison’s intensive analysis into Black cultural traditions, whereby she makes use of particular historic moments and efficiency modes (like pantomime or early movie) as beginning factors for her personal explorations into the reciprocal relationships between individuals and their environment. Slightly than dismissing illegibility as a scarcity of readability, Jemison embraces opacity as an expansive technique that gives different methods of working towards freedom and connection. 

Finish Over Finish is on view at JOAN (1206 Maple Avenue, Suite 715, Downtown, Los Angeles) by means of April 30, 2022. The exhibition is organized by Hannah Spears.

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