Paperless. What traces are left when we burn our words, allow them to dissolve? What do we hear in the silence of a pause or a period? Although silence, redaction, and erasure emerge as different forms of not-knowing, each divulges a narrative. Omissions are never necessarily mistakes and redactions are proof that nothing can truly be unsaid; we read these grey boxes like expressions or inflections of voice, as palpable and revealing as lips parted to speak. Haberstrah and Fowler, Morgan, and Lee create rhythms in the transparency of strike-throughs and the opaqueness of the backspace, leaving the lines between to speak volumes. Through this work the apparent violence of erasure becomes a means of continuing to converse.
Rachel Haberstroh and Max Fowler’s Infinite Wishing Well (2016) is fed by a twitter account that periodically retweets wishes sourced from across the media platform. As printed tweets unfurl directly into a clear basin of water, the Well realizes these dreams for only so long as it takes for paper and ink to dissolve. Nyeema Morgan’s Forty-Seven Easy Poundcakes Like grandma Use To Make (2007-2012) layers the titular recipes in different configurations with each other and with the actual recipe that Morgan’s grandmother habitually baked. The resultant brambles of text are illegible instructions that compel action without allowing for it. In these constellations that burn out in an excess of ink, Morgan illustrates the attempt to achieve a quality that no permutation of these recipes can teach. Sujin Lee enacts a similarly futile struggle in This Voice (2013), attempting to articulate the character of another voice. Lee’s own tones and expressions become as a redolent mirror to those of the other individual, who grows increasingly abstract in the subjectiveness of this description. In overwriting their subjects, Morgan and Lee express how unfit are our words when confronted by the ineffable, by the human.”
These works test the failures of communication, from social forums to private notation. Although destructive in nature, the gestures themselves become new loci of speech. Set at the beginning of this curatorial project, this exhibition acknowledges the moments when words are insufficient; the two following shows will find ways of making do without.