Notes on the NAVA Diagram

Notes on the NAVA Diagram
By Asha Sheshadri

September 2018

We Might Consider these rhetorical questions, from one friend to another:

  1. do you feel a unique and distinct panic when language suddenly seems to fail you when times are most urgent
  2. (if so) with this panic, do you feel the weight of the capsized vessel (the vessel so integral to our vitality?)

NAVA! Feel the weight of the namesake, which stitches together:
a lineage/a transformation/a signage/ a plane of nothingness/a lover/friend/human adult plant/the tenant feudal sound/the tip of a pencil/monochromacy/a coating process/a decoration/a treeless plateau

How to measure the circumference of NAVA? Consider its sensuality on the page or the screen: full, ripe yet incapable!

Marking up (poking prodding and underlining) margins of pages +
and stowing away these pages like a magpie =
an architectural coping mechanism for overwhelming feeling of linguistic indignity

In fumbling toward the contours of the planet of NAVA, We Might Consider what has been found within Xeroxed excerpts of the following:

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
-Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Mask

(How to uncover a beautiful, corrosive resistance to the notion of cognitive dissonance?)

“What do we gain by saying an object, the object, any object, possesses nothing intrinsically? What do we gain by saying that no object exists unless we create it for ourselves?                                                                              Can we share what we ourselves do not create?
Who are we that we create as we share without volition?
What do we gain by saying we lack volition?”
-Gregg Bordowitz, Volition

(How to narrate what transpires in the void that the lack of volition leaves behind?)

Billy Dufala sets forth the lineage along which we understand objects and intrinsic worth (through histories both hidden and evident). This has manifested itself through his orchestration within Philadelphia’s RAIR (Recycled Artists in Residency), through which perceptions of waste culture and sustainability through art and design are challenged, dissected and nurtured. His own practice echoes this modus operandi through sculptural endeavors, as they manifest themselves multidimensionally. Dufala injects into these works (often centered around found objects) his own vernacular in communicating interiority; how might they exist and function in the past, present and future?

Charles Hall interrogates various transformations of language and image alike with fortitude and candor. This occurs through earnest gestures imbued with a hybrid playfulness and urgency, asking us to reconsider original situations of text. Juxtapositions within the work break through scale and contour inviting extrapolation, allowing us to construct unique and political affectations. Hall asserts his own concerns surrounding “concrete emotions, abandoned objects, monumental injustice, radical
optimism, culture conjecture, toxic masculinity, athletic language, brutal truths and mass
consumerism”. The conception of a radical optimism is palpable, and it is left to the viewer to decipher its gravity.

Caroline Kent nurtures with an erudite conviction the human adult plant which exists in the universe of NAVA. For example, this is exemplified in her paintings on canvas, in which formal considerations are magnified by nomenclature (to make several extractions from titles of individual works: penultimate steps, facades that speak, a kind of witness, procession, first you look strong, notes taken un utterance). One can’t help but construct a bridge between this gesture and visual representations within theater and orchestration; Kent’s paintings on canvas and paper both evoke concepts of set design, and her text based works (some of which are identified as Scenes), point toward the notations within scripts or scores.

Sam Mapp brings forth the sensuality of the tip of a pencil in his pointing toward gridlike patterns within the frame, in which the aforementioned sensuality is tangible. Mapp’s work induces geographic possibilities; as one might consider Caroline Kent as a stage director or orchestra conductor, Mapp might occupy the role as a cartographer or surveyor. Mapp’s delineations and mark-making hew to elevation and texture in alternation between the measured and the nebulous, suggesting the complexities of space and emotion as we experience them.

Carolyn Jean Martin applies with precision and depth a coating process to her mixed media painting, sculpture, and presentations. It is important to consider specific research interests and how they might resonate throughout Martin’s body of work; her presentation entitled Negro Expositions: Portrait Photography in the Nineteenth and Twenty-first Centuries addresses her investment in representation, history and diaspora. Utilizing toy soldiers and guns as focal objects within her installations denote legacies of commodified violence. In tandem to Charles Hall, Martin is in firm command of her own technique of sculpting the textual; her statement (in ignited gunpowder, nonetheless) that “Sometimes, i use The Urban Dictionary” is a staunch provocation toward an
open-sourced lexicon.

Evan Nabrit is endowed with a sense of humor that amplifies the signages alongside which we exist. His work requires a consideration of the material, but more importantly, the statuses embedded within socio-political environments. The notion of satire is imbued within his collages, works on paper, video performance and text. The thrust of the work is a willingness to transpose his unique and broad criticality in multivalent forms. Nabrit questions “what traces will be scoured, hidden, or will be privileged; which signs are immediately relayed, will show? Despite all?” This inquisitiveness is salient in his work, and will remain germane to the signages which occupy the present moment (and well into the future).

Jordan Seaberry navigates situations and resounding implications in which a lover/a friend might find themselves. Seaberry queries “What does it mean to love a people? What’s it mean to love a neighborhood? A family? A person? A country?” Painting, collage and photography stitch together the intricacies of these questions; each work is a psychogeographic inquiry. What might our perceptions of objects and environments indicate of our histories, values and emotions? What affective attachments might we form around a suit and tie? A tree? A conversation between two individuals sitting upon a stoop or on a boat ride?

Alexandria Smith occupies the treeless plateau upon which NAVA exists. She does so in her mixed-media work, paintings and tableaux, stitching together (in her words) a “fictional, coming of age narrative that represents bodies in flux”. Complicated dimensions of our existence unfold upon this plateau; installations (The Pleasure Principle, No One Belongs Here More Than You) depict anatomy and appendage in visceral, phantasmagoric environments. Smith’s strategies of myth-making cultivate the potentiality for the trees to emerge upon the plateau.. In her work, an intricate system materializes from psychology, perception, and the political. Thematic entanglements become sources of power and understanding.

A Proposition!

To move closer to the contours of NAVA, We Might Consider the space for a remix, of a

What do we gain by a core belief that is very strong?
What do we gain by the new evidence that cannot be accepted?
No feeling is extremely uncomfortable unless we create it for ourselves.
Can we share the cognitive dissonance that we ourselves do not create?
Who are we that we protect the core belief, that we rationalize, ignore and deny
without volition?
What do we gain by saying we lack anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief
(without volition)?


exhibition by: JLM


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