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Natural selection comes from misidentified mockingbirds. On a string of Galápagos Islands Charles Darwin collected data on slight variations amongst a species of finches (that were actually mockingbirds), the results of which later became the basis for his theory of natural selection. The tidy humanist idea that she–nature–molds and reforms our bodies per the specifics of her landscape. She reaches down our throats and engineers the mysterious fact of song of speech of sound-making. She tunes the bird’s call and the human’s hum. In Mary Helena Clark’s Ligature, the chorus of disembodied sounds, the phantom of the finch, proposes a world heard haptically, a touching of a song, an illumination of the inner chambers of the larynx. As “ligature” may connote medical binding, textual twinning, or musical harmonizing, Clark proposes a multiplicity of connotative possibilities so that each may commingle in the atmosphere of the gallery.

Inherited traits of the female avant-garde sound and filmmakers of the twentieth century percolate in the Clark’s work. In this artist-cum-species lineage we find another story of creation: Alien Resurrection (1997), an alien-human hybrid is born. In the movie, avant-garde sound artist Joan La Barbara gave voice to Newborn, the alien sapien. Known for her 1970’s experimentations with the limits of long vocalizations, polyphonics, trills and whispers, La Barbara’s extended vocal technique operates on the crack of the voice, voice as evidence of a constellation of bodily mechanisms. How strange that this artist’s articulation of the vocal edges of the human form would be selected to animate alien otherness. La Barbara’s animation of the medical miracle of an alien/human body creates a circuit of woman/sound/apparatus/embodiment/alien/film/mimesis that provides a useful halo over Clark’s project.

Follow the ligatures of the exhibition: touching is tied to hearing, shell is tied to ear, laser is tied to throat, bird is tied to invisibility, projected images are bound to each other in multichannel call-and-responses. Clark uses contact microphones to record and amplify sound by pressing the mechanical ear into the places on the body that seem to produce it; a device kin to the stethoscope, producing recordings of the tongue, throat, and mouth. Bird songs throughout the exhibition announce an invisible presence – a sound we all know and understand though rarely see its source or witness the act of its making. Projections appear on tilted screens, bent and confronting you from below. Each of these elements build Clark’s ethereal, tactile project that calls into question the very fact of seeing and hearing and the forces that make those sensations reproducible to an artist. The viewer is rendered alien in Ligature’s speculative world.

— Erin Jane Nelson

 

Elizabeth Atterbury

Elizabeth Atterbury (born 1982, West Palm Beach, FL) lives and works in Portland, Maine. Recent solo and group shows include Kate Werble Gallery, New York; The Portland Museum of Art, Portland; Mrs., Queens; The Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville; kijidome, Boston; Document, Chicago; Western Exhibitions, Chicago; The Luminary, St Louis; Et al. Etc., San Francisco; Pulaski Park Field House, Chicago; Able Baker Contemporary, Portland; Ida Schmid, Brooklyn; TSA, Brooklyn; Bodega, Philadelphia/New York; KANSAS, New York; and The ICA at Maine College of Art, Portland, among others. In the Middle, An Oasis, a monograph of her work, was published by Bodega Press in 2013. She received her BA from Hampshire College and her MFA from MassArt.

Atterbury’s studio practice is fluid, fluctuating between picture making and object making. Fascinated with the autonomy of the artifact – objects disassociated from their original function and context – Atterbury’s practice considers the distinction or lack thereof between artifact, prop, model and sculpture.  Drawn to materials such as paper and sand, Atterbury constructs ephemeral tableaux specifically for the purpose of transfiguring and recording them. Both her photographs and sculpture build upon a continued interest in display and its visual structures, along with a more recent interest in language, ritual, and abstraction.

Elizabeth Atterbury, 26 Waves, 2018, Mortar, plywood and glue, 22 3/4h x 19w x 1d in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Alone at night, 2018, Mortar, plywood and glue, 23h x 19w x 1d in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Still life with bowl and mirror, 2018, Mortar, plywood and glue, 23h x 19w x 1d in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Anonymous Old Poem, 2018, Mortar, plywood and glue, 23h x 19w x 1d in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Calligraphy Frame, 2018, Maple, acrylic paint, glue, 60h x 40w x 1d in

Elizabeth Atterbury, The Well, Again (Pool), 2017, Beach sand, glue, MDF, 10 1/2h x 8w x 6 1/4d in

The Well, The Wall, 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

The Well, The Wall II, 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

Beach Woks (Marks of a Tool II), 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

Still Life with Popcorn and Pits, 2016 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Logogram III, 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

Logogram II, 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

Logogram I, 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

Sunny Side, FL (Tomb), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 12 x 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 in

Sunny Side, FL (The Cut), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 13 1/2 x 28 1/2 x 1 1/4 in

Sunny Side, FL (Sunset Hedge), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 1 1/2 x 16 x 2 1/2 in

Sunny Side, FL (Small House), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 1 x 16 3/4 x 14 1/2 in

Sunny Side, FL (Bull Shark), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 2 1/2 x 18 x 1 1/2 in

Sunny Side, FL (Paper Cut / Hedge), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 10 x 9 x 1 3/4 in

Sunny Side, FL (Noguchi's Intetra, Mist Fountain), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 11 x 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 in

Sunny Side, FL (Lawn), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 9 x 9 in

Sunny Side, FL (Big House), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 16 x 18 x 6 in

Sunny Side, FL (Palms), 2015 Enamel paint, steel 17 1/2 x 11 x 16 in

Relief (China White), 2015 Plywood and paint 33 x 48 x 1 3/4 in

Moonlight on the river, 2014, chromogenic print 14 x 11 in

Slow Song, 2014, chromogenic print 14 x 11 in

Marks of a tool, 2014, silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Rake, 2014, Silver gelatin print 24h x 20w in

Ghost Tracks, 2014, Silver gelatin print 24h x 20w in

Black Beach, 2014, silver gelatin print 14 x 11 in.

Bones, 2014 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Glyphs II, 2014 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Glyphs, 2014 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Site, 2014 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Sculpture Park, 2014 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Bricks, 2013, chromogenic print 14 x 11 in

Harry, Henri, Sal, 2013, chromogenic print 14 x 11 in

Blue runner, 2013, chromogenic print 14 x 11 in

Sara Greenberger Rafferty

ARTFORUM CRITIC’S PICK

Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Untitled (detail), 2018,ink-jet-printed vinyl, grommets, 10 x 35′.

Dramatically unfurling down the entryway of this gallery, a thirty-five-foot-long, untitled ink-jet-on-vinyl piece (all works 2018) hangs from grommets, on which Sara Greenberger Rafferty seems to have dumped the contents of her Google Drive. Dotted with rectangular icons ordered roughly by color, the work reveals Rafferty’s preoccupations with various kinds of staging. In it are a number of selfies the artist took in a Dior shirt that pays homage to art historian Linda Nochlin—emblazoned across it is “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists,” the title of Nochlin’s famous 1971 essay—alongside images of film stills, makeup swatches, Color-Aid tests, and comediennes such as Kathy Griffin.

“Testing” is the title and overarching concept for Rafferty’s solo show. Using kiln-formed glass for the first time, Rafferty prints predigital archival material that touches on female stardom, school exams, and photographic processing. A native of Chicago, Rafferty’s affinity for comedy has evolved over the years from slapstick sculptures to analyses of performance gestures. It is tempting to compare Rafferty’s “Testing” works to the early flatbed-scan “joke” works of Lucie Stahl, which included the German artist’s handwritten notes. But even with intrusions of the personal, Rafferty’s concerns remain structural.

Pieces such as Exterior (University of Michigan Extension) feature direct exposures of images onto ballistic and bulletproof plastic—the works’ substrates allude to gritty urban storefronts. Rafferty’s text-heavy works, however, pack a bigger conceptual punch. In The Law, she reproduces a page detailing Abbie Hoffman’s trial. In it, the notorious Yippie argues that his wearing of the American flag should be legal, like the garments of comic Phyllis Diller. Her Taxes appropriates an excerpt from a Vanity Fair article, published before the 2016 election, about Donald Trump’s undisclosed tax returns. Rafferty zeroes in on an anecdote about a women’s-lib era celebrity legal skirmish: that of comedienne Carol Burnett, who successfully fought the IRS to write off her evening gowns as business expenses in the 1960s.

 

Owner
Aron Gent
aron@documentspace.com
Director
Sibylle Friche
sibylle@documentspace.com
Gallery and Print Studio Assistant
Renata Cruz Lara Guerra
info@documentspace.com

Gallery hours:
Tuesday-Saturday: 11am-6pm

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DOCUMENT is a commercial gallery located in Chicago that specializes in contemporary photography, film and media based art. The gallery has organized more than 40 solo exhibitions since its opening in 2011 and actively promotes the work of emerging national and international artists. Operating conjointly as a professional printmaking studio, DOCUMENT facilitates the production of works by artists from Chicago and the US. At this time we do not accept unsolicited submissions.