Exhibition

altar

27 Jul 2023 – 31 Aug 2023

Regular hours

Thursday
12:00 – 18:00
Friday
12:00 – 18:00
Saturday
12:00 – 18:00
Wednesday
12:00 – 18:00

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About

island gallery is pleased to present Altar, a group show with works by Michelle S. Cho, Anne Wu, Lili Chin, and Citra Sasmita. The artists in Altar explore the act of worshipping in its multitude of forms, often using vernacular materials to invert traditions and revitalize animist beliefs.

Timur Merah Project VII by Citra Sasmita is a long-term undertaking that traces and rereads histories and narratives from the Balinese archipelago. The project reinterprets inaccessible manuscripts written in Ancient Javanese and Balinese. In the two-channel video work, a performer recites the poem Prelambang Bhasa Wewatkean (The Coded Language of Symbols), written by I Dew Agung Istri Kanya, a Queen of the Klungkung kingdom in Bali in the 19th century. The Queen was a fierce opposer to the Dutch colonizers, and her poem functioned as a memoir, spreading anti-Dutch propaganda beneath the surface of its tantric symbols. Performed against the backdrop of a Balinese temple ruin, Sasmita reanimates the Queen’s legacy of resistance and calls into question Bali’s current role as a tourist destination as its cultural landmarks begin to erode.  Sasmita’s paintings also revise the Kamasan painting genre which depict traditional Balinese stories. Sasmita inverts these narratives by offering an anti-patriarchal vision of the past. Adorned with fur, and replacing masculine deities and mythological figures with women as the protagonists, the works are alternative imagined histories.

Lili Chin uses age-old processes such as weaving, fresco, and ceramics as springboards to consider our relationship to trade, time, and the land we inhabit. Altar (Crossing) replaces the signs and symbols of religiosity with a series of found objects and ceramics that point to an intermingling of the human hand with the earth. This regenerative approach extends to Chin’s frescoes made during her time at a a residency in Galveston, Texas.  The works revive the medium with its devotional roots as cartographic, casting the oil-rich geography of Galveston within limestone in an alchemical process. The works become a nexus for ancient and contemporary ideas around spirituality to coalesce.

Anne Wu’s sculptures explore architectural ornamentation, material histories, and the Chinese immigrant experience.  Wu’s work often re-stages familiar architectural silhouettes using everyday materials. Neighbors depicts two air conditioning units stacked on top of each other as they might be seen outside of an apartment building. Embedded with water offering cups and a Chinese New Year calendar ornament, the work is vested with Wu’s intimate relationship with her hometown of Flushing, Queens.  Wu’s sculptures are frequently open-ended with ambiguous entry and exit points, at once inviting viewers to enter while offering no exit. The quotidian and vernacular origins of her sculptures along with their utility are subverted and exalted to their pure forms. Incense sticks, ephemeral by nature and often devotional, are instead delicately petrified within partitions. Their potential energy simultaneously tantalizes viewers and recalls the weighty act of an honorary ritual.

Cast from battered tires scavenged off the sides of I-95, Michelle S. Cho’s pewter sculptures address notions of materiality, migration, and craft. In Le Dit de la Rose, the violent gesture of an exploding tire is translated into what appears to be medieval style ornamentation. In its delicate new incarnation, the work traces the empty gaps of the throwaway tire to form a network of lines that may recall vines or a matrix of roads or systems. The choice of casting in pewter with its low melting point also makes the work modular in nature, easily disassembled and reassembled into new combinations. The metal is often seen as an imitator of silver – its alchemical process a container for an ancient and primal nostalgia. In Wimperg, the torn cast tires suggest the morbidity of animal bones or the sparsity of twigs strung together in a daisy chain. The ritualistic aura may echo Christ's thorn crown but the work is industrial in nature and self-contained, referencing the circular nature of the contemporary objects.

Anne Wu is an artist working primarily in sculpture and installation. She received an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University and a BFA from Cornell University. Her work has been exhibited at Asia Art Archive in America, M 2 3, Real Art Ways, The Shed, Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, and the New York Public Library, among others. She was an artist-in-residence at the Smack Mellon Artist Studio Program from 2021 to 2022 as a Van Lier Fellow and the NARS Satellite Residency on Governors Island in 2020. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Art in America, and Hyperallergic. In 2022, she received a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant.

Citra Sasmita is a contemporary artist from Bali whose work focuses on unraveling the myths and misconceptions of Balinese art and culture. She is also deeply invested in questioning a woman’s place in the social hierarchy and seeks to upend the normative construct of gender. Born in Bali, Indonesia on March 30, 1990, Citra Sasmita has never formally graduated from an art institution. Studied at Literature diploma, Udayana University (2008) and Faculty of Mathematics and Sciences, Ganesha University of Education, majoring in Physics Education (2009). Her dream as an artist grew again when she joined the campus theater group and became a short story illustrator in Bali Post. When she became an illustrator she deepened his self-taught world of art and actively participated in exhibitions in Bali and outside of Bali. One of her long-term projects, Timur Merah Project; Harbor of Restless Spirits being presented in Garden of Six Seasons, ParaSite, a painting on cow’s hide reflects the Kamasan Balinese painterly language that Citra has been developing in her practice. It represents a geography of female figures, fires, and various natural elements, composed whimsically in an unfolding of pansexual energy. While rooted in mythological thinking with Hindu and Balinese-specific references, the scenes are equally part of the contemporary process of imagining a secular and empowered mythology for a post-patriarchal future.

Michelle S. Cho is a Korean-American sculptor who currently lives and works in New York City. Recently, she has been exhibited at the CICA Museum, Gimpo, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York City, Vox Pouli, Philadelphia, and the Korean Culture Center, Washington D.C. Cho has received her MFA from the University of Philadelphia, and her BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art. Cho currently works in Cultural and Heritage Preservation for the Republic of Korea’s Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation. 

Lili Chin is an artist based in New York City. Combining installation, video and sculpture, her practice focuses on nature and architecture to explore rituals in time, bridging contemporary and ancient ideas that investigate themes of memory, duration and spirituality. Selected international exhibition venues include The Drawing Center, Below Grand, Bronx River Art Center, STPI Gallery in Singapore, as well as several other art organizations in the US, Scotland, Latin America, Europe, Japan and China. Her films have screened at Anthology Film Archives, 601 Art Space, Microscope Gallery, Edinburgh Film Festival and the Pacific Film Archive. She has created commissioned installations for the He Xiangning Museum in Shenzhen and the Ely Center of Contemporary Art, CT and her work is part of the White Columns Artist Registry. As a recipient of fellowships from MacDowell, the Visual Studies Workshop, the Akiyoshidai International Art Village, and Buffalo Arts Studio, she has also attended residencies at Mass MoCA, the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, Cove Park, BRIC, and the Galveston Artist Residency. She received a LMCC Creative Engagement grant and additionally curates projects and screenings. She received an MFA from the University of California San Diego, a BFA from Pratt Institute, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

What to expect? Toggle

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Citra Sasmita

Anne Wu

Lili Chin

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