Emily Shanahan

6 Jun 2017

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Sla307 Art Space is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Emily Shanahan entitled, She thought her body was dissolving into foam. This is Shanahan’s first solo show in New York City.


She thought her body was dissolving into foam displays a selection of digital collages using imagery all sourced from the Internet.  Subtly using politically engaged media, Shanahan decontextualizes both material and imagery.  Using Photoshop she cuts, trims, rotates and crops collected imagery, which is then reassembled into a new context void of any of the original political figures who attempt to target our aspirations.  The alluring appeal political endorsements evoke are underscored through Shanahan’s reduction of imagery into shadows and negative shapes. Her formal reassembled digital cutouts are aesthetically sophisticated while eerily absolving any individual, political party, or media outlet.
Shanahan adapts similar techniques as her digital collage into her most recent video:  Hydroboost.  The imagery is sourced from advertisements over the last five decades marketing bath, cosmetic and cleaning products to women.  The narration originates from a Speedo advertisement and is hypnotically synced with the video imagery for an unsettling weightless experience.  Weightlessness is a common theme throughout Shanahan’s work.  Environments relating to water are media designated locations where women can attain freedom, yet they are biologically impossible to survive in.  This paradox asserts reflection upon contemporary gender spaces and is absorbed in Shanahan’s floor piece:  commercial grade blue carpeting cascading over a dozen staggered 5 gallon water cooler bottles laying on the floor.  Innately flat, the ubiquitous carpeting reflects the smooth surfaces media is communicated through while the wave-like curves mirror formal elements of her collages and connect themes of water with Hydroboost. The carpet visually guides us through a floor space, which we cannot physically walk upon without stumbling.  Ultimately, the sculpture serves as a conduit for all of Shanahan’s themes.
Throughout all of her work, Shanahan voids the objective and repurposes the material creating a vacuum.  Repeatedly folding upon itself, she generates an echo chamber bringing the action of media full circle.

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Emily Shanahan


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