Elise Siegel’s new installation rough edges at Studio 10 in Bushwick gives new meaning to “reversing the gaze.” The installation consists of 12 ceramic sculptures — loosely speaking, portrait busts — each around 24 inches high and mounted on unpainted plywood plinths. As you enter the gallery you can see each one separately as well as its relationship to the others. While they take the form of traditional portrait busts, they are anything but.
Be prepared for the penetrating gaze of this group of partial figures. You might just feel quietly confronted or stop dead in your tracks. “This is about you, not us,” they seem to communicate, as they beckon you closer. They don’t represent anyone in particular and gender and race seem intentionally indeterminate, though you, the viewer, might assign a more specific identity, bringing to them your own experience and/or expectations.
Titles provide no clues. They are simple descriptors: “Black and Pale Blue Portrait Bust with Hollow Eyes” (2018) or “Portrait Bust with Copper and Iron Stripes” (2017), for example. For some, Siegel’s hollow busts might evoke vessels or perhaps metaphorical containers of emotion. Each reveals an uncanny expression, reinforced by variations in modeling, as well as glazing techniques like the complex, layered application of colored slips and oxides that produce raw, patina-like surfaces. These formal characteristics translate into emotional vulnerability and promote personal projection.
Projection, in fact, is key to Siegel’s work. Unlike the more traditional portrait bust, which represents the external characteristics of an individual, these busts seem to be about interiority — yours and mine. If you read darkness into them, be assured you are not alone. They encourage us to acknowledge the emotional rough edges we all feel at times, if not all the time.
The busts also encourage us to project external experiences or externally generated fears or anxieties on them. For some, they might conjure a jury or the aftermath of the 2016 election, a nuclear attack, or a climate-related disaster. You name it. This is the poetry of Elise Siegel’s work and, although content may vary, it is the source of poetry in art in general — tacit permission to bring one’s experience to bear and to participate in the creation of meaning.
rough edges: Elise Siegel continues at Studio 10 (56 Bogart St, Bushwick Brooklyn) through February 3.
“What does it mean to arrive from a country with a fascist regime?” asks Russian dissident artist Victoria Lomasko.
In the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death at the hands of “morality police,” artists and filmmakers across the world are voicing their support for protesters in Iran.
Artists reflect on histories of oppressive power structures in Brazil in this exhibition at the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
The 200-year-old instrument, housed in the Library of Congress, has not been played by anyone else until now.
Though roiled by antisemitism allegations, 738,000 people attended, a modest 17% decline from the previous, pre-pandemic edition.
From exhibition catalogue pages marketed as original prints to brazenly fake “authorized” copies of Harings and Warhols, we’re living in a golden age of art piracy.
Ultimately the legacy of the classic modernist novel may reside in how attentively and scrupulously it concentrates on the music of tentative, shambolic, open-ended urban lives.
Funding options at UB include full-tuition scholarships for MFA students, the Arthur A. Schomburg Fellowship Program, and additional opportunities for MA students.
More than 100 modest and intimately scaled artworks in Still Life and the Poetry of Place provide glimpses into interiors, both humble and opulent.
Gladman’s poems suggest how ecological knowledge can affect how we can imagine cities.
With Moonage Daydream, director Brett Morgen sought to let Bowie’s music and philosophy hit in a whole new way, immersing audiences in an IMAX experience.