Carol Szymanski: He Said I Thought

17 Oct 2019 – 17 Nov 2019

Regular hours

12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00

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signs and symbols is pleased to present He Said I Thought, a site-specific solo exhibition by New York based artist Carol Szymanski. The exhibition will mark the debut of the artist’s most substantial performance work to date.


He Said I Thought is a text-based installation incorporating live performance, video, photography and sound to conjure a sharp yet nuanced rumination on acquiescence and ambivalence in gender relations after post-feminism and before #MeToo. Szymanski has long been known for her conceptually sophisticated work exploring language in multiple modalities and using various mediums including sculpture and painting, but most often in ways that focus on the smallest units of signification — the phonemes. With He Said I Thought, Szymanski’s work takes a new turn, widening the view to examine the complexities of interpersonal communication. 

The exhibition, culminating in a sound and performance work, mixes references from Thomas Bernhard’s The Loser, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, and Nathalie Léger’s Suite for Barbara Loden (inspired by Loden’s film Wanda) with stories from Szymanski’s cockshut dummy text rooted in Roget’s Thesaurus (to be published by Space Sisters Press later this year). The index for the cockshut dummy is wallpapered in the gallery as a universal nonsensical background for recalibrations in various medium of 7 suits designed by Valentino, D&G, Marni, McQueen, Sander, Yamamoto and Galliano. These suits were worn by the artist as work outfits in the late 1990s - early 2000s and represent a homage to the suit as the uniform identity but have been re-invented as sculpture to present a critique of the same identity for its lack of transparency and its acquiescence in a gendered hierarchy. The same suits reappear as details in an eight-channel video installation showing women’s hands and that of the man trying to caress them—imagery inspired by Sartre’s famous passage on “bad faith” in Being and Nothingness—a subterfuge by which individuals hide their own freedom from themselves.

He Said I Thought evolved out of Acquiescence, an artist book Szymanski made in collaboration with Book Works in London in 2007. As this topic is so extremely pertinent now, she has decided to present it to the public for the first time. 

The artist would like to thank the following performers:
Yevgeniya Baras, Phoebe Berglund, David Cohen, Rina Dutta (performer and acting director), Marcela Florido, Janice Guy, Maisa Imamovic, Sam Jablon, Joan Jonas, Simone Kearney, Kalup Linzy, Luzie Meyer, Abel Ringot, Alex Neuman, Kasenia Saager, Aliya Say, Barry Schwabsky, Sophie Seita, Lane Shiotayonii, Gabriella Singh, Charlie Stein, Xiaofu Wang

Seated Performances*
October 25, 7pm
October 27, 7pm
November 8, 7pm
November 10, 7pm

*RSVP is required for the performances due to our intimate setting. Please e-mail info@signsandsymbols.art to reserve a seat.

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Carol Szymanski


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