Inner Form

Inner Form , 2017. Optical performance. A commission by Isabella Rossellini. The Farm of Isabella Rossellini, Brookhaven Hamlet, New York. Photo credit: Ioulex

Inner Form, 2017. Optical performance. A commission by Isabella Rossellini. The Farm of Isabella Rossellini, Brookhaven Hamlet, New York. Photo credit: Ioulex

Isabella Rossellini is pleased to present Inner Form, an ephemeral exhibition by artist Lia Chavez at her farm in Brookhaven Hamlet, New York.

The presentation celebrates the approach of the winter solstice and includes a new series of light sculpture, a site-specific installation, and a live performance. The body of work presented explores the fundamental luminosity of the mind which Chavez experiences while in intense states of meditation and introspection. Each work considers different approaches to the geometrical division of space, the underlying structure of living things, and the phenomenon of embodiment.

Her sculpture, The Eye is a Vessel of Light (2014-2017), for example, draws upon the geometric innovations of Hellenistic cosmology that constituted early theories of ontological becoming. The sculpture exemplifies visual tensions contained within the Euclidian motif of intersecting circles in order to compose a mandala of alternating radiance and darkness. Her ephemeral sculptural installation, Virgin of the Field (2017), presents a three dimensional study of the classical painting technique of “sfumato.” Chavez crafts an abstract tableau by passing incandescent beams through three distinct substances, namely: water, earthen pigment, and linseed oil. The artist provides a darkly hallucinatory vision of a process by which the contours of light are subordinated to the influence of denser elements. Her concern with how ancient theories of consciousness relate to geometry is evident in the performative sculpture Book of Me (2017). Displaying within its mirrored reflection the Pythagorean emblem of the hexad — an ancient cosmological symbol for the reconciliation of opposites — this piece presents a motion-activated study on the dynamism of being. 

Her fascination with providing new ways of looking at seemingly familiar classical motifs is shown in the recurring element of refracted light. Each refraction alters and enhances architectural space by proposing an ethereal virtual space, while the basis of the sculpture carves out an actual space for the object to occupy. The perceptual paradox of this disruptive play between image and object is an extension of the artist’s concerns: namely, the indistinct space between abstraction and figuration, how the mind responds to different visual stimuli, and surprising congruencies that exist between the mind, the world, and the cosmos. Working with principles of phase velocities in light refraction, Chavez expands on her poetics of light, indicating, in the words of art historian Katie Kresser, “how physical substances, and by analogy human consciousness, can refract real or spiritual light.” 

At sunset Chavez presents an optical performance which meditates on the roles that light, time, space, and movement of the body play in the exposure of one’s being. Enacting the celestial dance of spinning to find her axis, she crafts a living photograph which makes explicit the presence of the rapid bursts of light that are central to the artist's technical process for creating dynamic interpretations of photographic space. The result is a visual cycling through light and dark, stasis and becoming, classical refinement and raw ritualism. The influence of early photographic studies of human locomotion by Eadweard MuyBridge is evident in the work, with the arrangement of primal, gestural remnants which originate from the sustained action of Chavez’s undulation within an elemental expanse. Bodily fragments accumulate in the viewer’s retinal afterimage suggesting pictorial shards discarded from a cyclone. The collaged gestures are bonded to one another by time and memory: a lightening flash of the frozen figure broken and contorted by movement to reveal a fleshly assemblage of something transmuted. This self-portrait — primordial, ambiguous, and extracted from the quicksand of time — reveals the connective lapses between inner sensation and technological interpretation which interrupt the completion of an ancient circle — of time, thought, and motion.

Artistic director and performer: Lia Chavez
Musician: Weyhan Smith of the Shinnocock Indian Nation
Producer: Nur El Shami
Costuming: Christian Dior, from the archive of Pilgrim New York
Stylist: Richard Ives
Documentation: Ioulex (shown here), Ira Lippke, and Alexis Silver
Production Assistant: Courtney Pure
Presenter: Isabella Rossellini