Thursday, March 24, 2011

Writ Crit: Grace Hong

In her most recent installation of work, Grace has chosen a range pieces made in the last year; some of these works I have seen before, while many I have not. In this critique I will choose to address those pieces which I find more striking and compelling and those with which I feel most connected. In surveying Grace’s works, text and tactility are the most prominent elements. While I feel compelled to touch and even explore (I peeked inside the t-shirt; I needed to know what the graphic on the front (now inside out) was) many of the pieces, I found that I often didn’t feel the need to read all the text present. Much like the steady embroidery-work that dominates her current work, I found that the text came to embody a sort of intimate meditation or musing; as text, after a few lines, it almost become more important as a signifier of the time and self-meditation spent with these pieces - reflective of any time one may be alone with his or her own inner monologue. 

The electric blue piece above best exemplifies what I find most compelling in Grace’s work. While most the works presented represent a muted, pastel, or even white palette, this piece is an electric blue with fragment, all-caps text in red, yellow, and blue. I notice Grace often seems to use these flashes of bright reds or blue in her work sometimes to evoke a playfulness, but also to speak to what I imagine to be a state of inner tension or anxiety. In this electric blue piece, this is how the text feels to me. I only need to read the first few lines to understand its role as intimate personal dialogue, a futile fighting perhaps, with oneself about things that had happened that can’t be changed. This automatic writing/inner monologue text embroidered in bright form makes me imagine Grace slowly embroidering it, stuck contemplating these past actions, drawing them out in her mind. Combined with the violent wrinkling of the paper, I get a very visceral vibration from this piece. It struggles to become more than just this page, this documentation of past events, perhaps traced over and over in the mind. I can also read all the time the artist spent with this piece, creating its wrinkles, slowly creating its text, endowing it with a life of its own, in which I read the potential frustration, sadness, regret, or even just the wanderings of a mind with extra time, tracing over the if’s and but’s of the week. Above all, I feel as if I interact with this piece on a very intimate level, which makes it the connection very powerful. 

Grace’s HOW ARE YOU? piece I feel evokes a similar quality yet not as eloquently, humanly, intimately or as strongly as the blue piece. The embroidered rhyming text pieces seem like mental musings to me, though I am unsure of their purpose, besides their childlike, playful qualities (indicated by palette, silly rhyming, and simple drawings - although these pieces hint to very adult realities, like prescription and beer bottles). The grey t-shirt piece, I’m sure about. I’m unsure if t-shirt chosen (and its graphic) were chosen specifically for the piece. It also gives me a creepy feeling of imagining the body plucked out, violated by this cutting out of text... but I find the interior facing text idea to be very compelling (perhaps if images of the shirt worn were presented or the like). 

And now, pillows. I know Grace’s intentions with her text messages pillows were conceptually of collecting these comforting things to come back to, much like a pillow you can hug or squeeze or curl into bed with. However, because of their small size and pastel text, they read as very ‘cutesy’ - I almost think of baby pillows, which weirds me out (I guess because that would mean they’re not intended for me/out of my context). I am more comfortable with the larger blue pillow, and have felt compelled to pick it up and have it on my lap in a past studio visit. At first, “Pillow Talk” seems too mature of a title for this piece (given the handwriting paper and text, the content of the questions), but I think it actually alludes to the childlike nature of true intimacy. I also imagine this pillow as a stand-in for a bedtime companion, something to hug and talk to as you fall asleep in bed alone. I don’t feel as connected to the building pillow, perhaps because it feels more decorative or stylized and I don’t know the building. I am intrigued by the proposal for what seems to be a 3-4 ft tall plush hand, but am trying to imagine it in actuality and what that hand might mean at that size... I worry it might seem god-like if it surpassed 3 or 4 ft (or King Kong?). As you embark on this project, I suggest you consider human size relationship/interaction and its possible connotations or interpretations - a hand that big also makes the hand as symbol very important.

To Check Out:

Fiona Banner

“pushing the limits of text” - potentially interesting visceral qualities also

Also suggested, the book Art and Text, as was mentioned in the critique this past Wednesday:

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