Agnes Scherer and Paul DD Smith
The title of the exhibition Far Back Must Go Who Wants To Do A Big Jump is borrowed from an eponymous work by Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, one of her quintessential typewritten visual poems.
The phrase alludes to a series of backwards steps that are necessary to take in order to jump forward, a dualistic notion which provides the golden thread of the exhibition.
Petrit Halilaj’s series of women’s dresses is the artist’s response to a gift given to him by his grandfather, who made a set of clothes hangers for his new apartment meant for his hypothetical girlfriend. Playing drag with his own identity and faced with the impossibility of explaining his sexuality to his grandfather, the artist asked several tailors to produce women’s dresses in his size. Halilaj’s affinity for costume has also taken shape in the form of various animals that hold significance for him: birds and moths that would at times be performed by the artist himself or in the latter case, made with traditional Kosovarian fabrics in fantastical proportions. For Halilaj, the act of masquerade provides escape and freedom, as well as metamorphosis and new life.
The photographic series by Jacopo Benassi, Ciabatte (Slippers), reflects on the domestic accessory as a symbol of intimacy, sexuality, liberation and secrecy. By showcasing a piece of apparel unsuitable for the outdoors, Benassi commits an act of exposure, reflecting upon the boundaries and fragility of ideas such as self-protection and propriety.
Liliana Barchiesi is most known for her photographic series Casalinghe (Housewives), shot between April and June 1979. Made with a Nikon 24×36 camera with BN negative, the series encompasses over a dozen rolls of 36 shots. Barchiesi left notecards in the porters’ lodges of different Milanese neighborhoods, where she explained the reasons for her research and asked for her subjects’ consent to participate. The women were then photographed in their homes while carrying out their duties. A pioneer of Italian Feminist art and its movement, Barchiesi showed a glimpse into the everyday lives of these women, calling for the recognition of domestic work as legitimate labor and inspiring further important discussions on the disparities within patriarchal society.
Rosemary Mayer was a founding member of A.I.R. Gallery in New York, the first cooperative women’s gallery in the US, and one of the voices of the early 70s feminist movement in America. Contesting the formal, predominantly Minimalist art of the time, Mayer produced experimental works across performance, sculpture, publication and drawing. Her billowing fabric sculptures, for which she is most well-known, were often named after literary and historical figures– iridescent forms spanning subjects and ideas such as philosophy, mythology, and temporality. The works on paper in the exhibition are mappings of different noises heard from outside in Mayer’s studio on specific days, color-coded to create a mosaic of sounds and textures. What can be interpreted as synaesthetic studies on the quotidian can be as much the peculiarities of individual perception.
Agnes Scherer and Paul DD Smith present a new series of ceramic tableware, with painted garlands of culinary and floral motifs encircling various narrative scenarios. These scenes pay homage to the historical figure François Vatel, a chef and event planner who served at the Château de Chantilly in 17th century France. Vatel is infamous for having committed suicide in response to the immense pressure of entertaining Louis XIV and his enormous entourage. The anecdote goes that he ran himself through with his own sword because of the insurmountable shame of a missing delivery of fish. The duo has previously taken inspiration from the intricate and often bizarre designs of different periods, constructing parallel worlds in their depiction of certain activities at the center of a societal universe. Scherer and Smith combines historical aesthetics with invented chronicles to create enigmatic, surreal hybrids of meaning and importance.
Lastly, three works by Kira Freije feature another ubiquitous object within the interior realm. The lamps, made of scrap metal and cracked liquor bottles, operate as guides in a nebulous network governed by Freije’s particular material language, characters that invite theatrical suspense and activate recognition and memories in the viewer. Employing a process of sculpture-making that is akin to following poetic structure, Freije’s works form constellations of meaning in their arrangements. In Elizabeth Bishop’s 1955 poem “The Shampoo”, the narrator asks to wash her female lover’s black hair in a tin basin, “battered and shiny like the moon”. The scene depicts female homosexuality and desire concealed from the eyes of others, exemplary of the invisibility of the subject matter. Likewise, queerness and (in)visibility are notions latent in Freije’s sculptures, yet open to recognition.
All images: Andrea Rossetti and Trevor Lloyd
Petrit Halilaj (b. 1986 in Kostërrc, Kosovo) lives and works between Berlin, Mantua and Pristina. In 2013, Halilaj represented Kosovo for the country’s first appearance at the Venice Biennale. In 2017 he was invited to participate in the 57th Venice Biennale by the curator Christine Macel, where he was awarded the Special Mention by the Jury. In 2017 he was awarded the Mario Merz Prize, which resulted in a major commissioned project he presented in 2018 at the Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern and at Fondazione Merz, Turin. Solo exhibitions include: Palacio de Cristal, Museo Reina Sofia (upcoming, 2020); ChertLüdde, Berlin (upcoming, 2019); Shkrepëtima, Fondazione Merz, Turin (2018); Hammer Projects: Petrit Halilaj, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Shkrepëtima, Paul Klee Zentrum, Bern (2018); Shkrepëtima, Performance Festival, Runik, Kosovo (2018); RU, New Museum, New York (2017); ABETARE (Fluturat), Kamel Mennour, Paris (2017); Do you realise there is a rainbow even if it’s night!?, Kamel Mennour, London (2017); Space Shuttle in the Garden, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2016); ABETARE, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (2015); She fully turning around became terrestrial, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn (2015).
Jacopo Benassi (b. La Spezia, Italy, 1970) lives and works in La Spezia. He has published or featured in publications such as Gli aspetti irrelevanti, co-authored with Paolo Sorrentino (2016); Le Dictateur, Milan (2014); Arte e omossessualità, da von Gloeden a Pierre et Gilles, curated by Viittorio Sgarbi and Eugenio Viola (2007). Solo and group exhibitions include: CRACK, CAMERA, Centro Italiano per la fotografia, Turin (2019); CRACK, Fotografia Europea, Chiostri di San Pietro (2019); BOLOGNA PORTRAITS, Palazzo Bentivoglio, Bologna (2019); IS IT MY BODY?, Milan (2018); Zelle Gallery, Palermo (2011).
Liliana Barchiesi was born in 1945, Milan. She has photographed for news outlets such as Effe, Noi Donne, Amica, Due più, L’Espresso. Solo and group exhibitions include: The Unexpected Subject: 1978 Art and Feminism in Italy, FM Centre for Contemporary Art, Milan (2019); Behind the Lens. Italian photographers 1965-2018, Museo Santa Giulia di Brescia, Brescia (2019); The other glance, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2018); Triennale di Milano, Milan (2016); Donne-Immagini 1974-1979 at Palazzo Vitelli Università di Pisa (2009); Una Nessuna Centomila, Palazzo Fortuny di Venezia, Venice (1980).
Rosemary Mayer (b. 1943 – 2014) was born in New York. Solo exhibitions include: Rosemary Mayer: Beware of All Definitions, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Georgia (2017); Rosemary Mayer: Conceptual Works and Early Fabric Sculptures, 1969-1973, SOUTHFIRST, New York (2017); Illustrations for Beowulf, Resnick Gallery, Long Island University, New York (2005); Pam Adler Gallery, New York (1985); Interart Gallery, The Women’s Interart Center, Inc., New York (1982); Minneapolis College of Art and Design, MN (1981); The Art Gallery, Malott Hall, Cornell University, New York (1980); 55 Mercer Street Gallery and 461 Park Avenue South Gallery, New York (1979); Outdoor installation, Jamaica Farmer’s Market, Jamaica, NY (1977); Whitney Museum of Art Resources Center, New York (1975); A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY (1973). Group exhibitions include: The History Show, A.I.R. Gallery, New York (2008); A.I.R. Gallery Retrospective, Werkstatte Gallery, New York (2008); Art Faculty Exhibition, LaGuardia Community College, New York (2008); Material Girls, 128 Gallery, New York (1997); American Women Artists: The 20th Century, Knoxville Museum of Art and Queens Community College, New York (1989); New Romantics, Union Square Gallery, New York (1987); Sculptural Membrane, Sculpture Center, New York (1986); Paper Now, Cleveland Museum of Art (1986); Artists’ Books, Metronom, Barcelona, Spain (1981); Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY (1981); Overview, P.S.1., Long Island City, New York (1978); Paper, Rockefeller Arts Center, State University of New York at Fredonia, New York (1977); Women Choose Women and Soft as Art, New York Cultural Center, New York, NY (1973); A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY (1973); Materials II, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA (1973).
Kira Freije (b. 1985, London) lives and works in London. In 2011, Freije graduated from the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at the University of Oxford. She attended residencies at the Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, Italy and Red Mansion Residency, Beijing, China. Awards include The Elephant Trust; the Pirye Prize, Oxford University; Land Securities Studio Award; and the Chelsea Arts Club Trust Special Project Award. Solo and group exhibitions include: Mouthing the living, undetected, on breeze or breath, Soft Opening Herald Street, London (2019); The Charade, Lockup International, London (2019); Sheltering Sky, Gao, London (2019); Ecstacy in Norwich, Lower Green, Norwich (2018); Companion to a Fall, Turf Projects, Croydon (2018); Go, Soft Opening, London (2018); Dead Heat, Kunstraum Ortloff, Leipzig, Germany (2017); The Sleeping Procession, Cass Sculpture Foundation, Chichester (2017); Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London (2017); The Dark Away, Recent Activity, Birmingham (2017); Walled Gardens in an Insane Eden, Sara Zanin Gallery, Rome (2017); God’s Finger, Kinman Gallery, London (2016); Our Tongues Are The Replaceable Filaments, Occidental Temporary, Paris (2016); A Rose Is Without a ‘Why’. It Blooms Because It Blooms, Carl Freedman Gallery, London (2016); A Rapid Succession of Noises That You Confuse For Danger, RA Schools Show, Royal Academy, London (2016). All About My Mother, Royal Academy of Art, London (2015); Suzy Culinski and Friends, Fanta Spazio, Milan (2014); Yesterday Night, Rowhill Mansions, London (2014); Corso Apart, Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, Italy (2013); Greenhorn, Tintype, London (2013); Red Mansion Art Prize, Burlington Gardens, London (2013). Her work is included in the permanent collection of the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Elephant Trust.
Agnes Scherer (b. 1985, Lohr am Main) and Paul DD Smith (b. 1983, Woodbridge) live and work in Berlin. Previously they have exhibited together in The Nile Set, COFA, Köln (2016). Solo and group exhibitions of Agnes Scherer include: Maskulinitäten, Kunstverein Düsseldorf (2019); Back There, Kunstverein Tiergarten/Galerie Nord, Berlin (2019); Tales of the Haunted and the Body, Casa Cristea Schneider, Berlin (2019); The Teacher, Kinderhook & Caracas, Berlin (2019); My Body Doesn’t Like Summer, Galerie Philipp Haverkampf, Berlin (2018); Chambre 10, Sans Titre, Paris (2018); Cupid and the Animals, Tramps, NY (2018); Cupid and the Animals, Langer Donnerstag, Museum Ludwig, Köln (2018); The 7th Seal, 8q, Cologne (2018); Tie His Hands Gently, Romeo, New York (2016); Mary und der Vulkan, KIT, Düsseldorf (2016); Susy Culinski & Friends, Fanta Spazio, Milan (2015); Look at the Harlequins!, with Claudia Barth and Alison Yip, Kunstmuseum Solingen, Soligen (2015). Solo and group exhibitions of Paul DD Smith include: back there, Galerie Nord / Kunstverein Tiergarten, Berlin (2019); Loft, Studio 2.63, Cologne (2019); Merry Me, Galerie Genscher, Hamburg (2019); My Body Doesn’t Like Summer, Philip Haverkamp Galerie (2018); Sandale, Galery 21, Hamburg (2017); Anfangen Pt. II, Electrohaus, Hamburg (2016); Glamourie, PSL, Leeds (2012).