The Freudian dictum holds that where Id was, there Ego shall be. In Louise Bourgeois‘ terms, the successful realization of a sculpture functions to make conscious what was previously unconscious — that is, repressed and inaccessible — and discharge unwelcome or unmanageable instinctual impulses. Her symbolic forms, like the symptoms of the neurotic, are compromise formations between a wish and a defense.
New York City! You literally only have a few more days to make it to Cheim & Read to see Ghada Amer’s gorgeous and provocative mixed media exhibit, Rainbow Girls. An Egyptian-born artist who now lives and works in New York, Ghada Amer is well known for brightly-colored, embroidered “paintings” in which depictions of women, often appropriated from soft-porn magazines, are carefully stitched and sewn on the canvas. Extra thread is left to hang from the images’ contours like drips and splashes of paint, abstracting and obscuring the figures.
By using the traditionally feminine, domestic activity of embroidery to re-contextualize her subject, Amer confronts cultural objectification of the female form, repositioning it for a feminist dialectic. In new works for this exhibition, all completed between 2012 and 2014, Amer also introduces text – both English and Arabic – to her compositions, thus merging language with form and literally weaving the two together.
Distorted by knots, webs, and skeins of embroidery thread, Amer’s text is a feminist “base” on which she situates her imagery. For example, Simone de Beauvoir’s statement, “One is not born but rather becomes a woman” vibrates behind the candy-colored threads of The Rainbow Girl.
Also in the exhibit are a series of very cool metal sculptures, in which word and image are calligraphically intertwined to create open, filigreed structures. You can see ladies faces in the one pictured above, and below.
The sculptures are “reminiscent of Mashrabiya” – the latticed wooden screens found in traditional Arabic architecture, which allow one to see out without being seen.
Rainbow Girls by Ghada Amer will be on Exhibit Only Through Saturday May 10th, 2014 at Cheim & Read, Located at 547 West 25 Street, New York.