SOFT SYNTH + BIGHT BOUND

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The works of Angela Lopez, Emma Oslé and José Santiago Pérez come together toward an equation called SOFT SYNTH + BIGHT BOUND. This is a room of seemingly surface contradictions- knotty lines that are meant to dance, a rough hand across a plush material, smooth continuity of natural fibers that move in order to contain. We are encouraged to rearrange the components and our relationships to them within the space, since as in an addition equation, changing the order of the addends will not affect the answer.

The video work of Lopez takes us across a plush surface with a rugged hand over and over to share in our conscious (then unconscious) relationship to touch. We experience the contrast of fingers, unmanicured and unadorned, running through faux fur. As we watch, we begin to feel through the material simply by seeing, blurring the line between observation and experience. What’s being suggested is an empathic relationship to our own senses and those of others. Even the occasional breeze that occasionally moves through can be felt as the fibers blow against the moving hand.

 

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The shibari-based sculptures of Oslé find their power in the geometry of containment. There are no gendered figures to be found within these shapes. There is only a chair, which invites us to imagine subjects of desire engaged with the object, or even become the object ourselves. The particular aesthetic of the BDSM art form demands that the technique be an extension of the artist’s hand.  This rope work is used as a way to communicate that both confines and employs a dynamism through its pointed design and expansive movement. Here the hard lines between confinement and liberation are put into play.

Associations with all things plastic are complex- viewed as disposable, while never quite going away. Pushing against its use as metaphor for fakeness, or something that isn’t “real”, Santiago Pérez explores ways of repurposing the ever-resilient material into new forms of life that are as organic as animal movement itself.  Tightly knotted tutus dance throughout the room, with the use of color suggesting elemental forces. Each outfit moves with a possibility for us to find ways to reinvent in a world with fewer clean lines and more cluttered mess. Woven baskets engage the artifice of gender, shaped in ways that trouble the notion of functionality in terms of their “giver”, and “receiver” roles. Placement on the walls also calls into question the purpose of the objects themselves, beyond assumed functionality.

 

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While the show’s name infers contrast, the efforts of José Santiago Pérez, Emma Oslé and Angela Lopez come together with a fluidity that features movement, material, and primordial forces that continue to push through the anthropocene. What first appear as opposites are shaped into possibilities for newborn dialogues within this space and beyond. SOFT SYNTH + BIGHT BOUND …

 

– Frank Sherlock, Philadelphia Poet Laureate 2014-2015

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