Rachel Uffner Gallery presents the sculptures of Jennifer Cohen and the photography and collage of Vlatka Horvat. Taken together the two artists destabilize the wholeness of the human figure and render it into hybridic and subdivided forms. These bodies are missing parts or are missing completely from an image but manage nevertheless to propose mobility for what they leave behind.
A former dancer, Cohen has devised sculptures in cement, bronze and found objects, like jazz shoes, that abstract the body and bring its geometry and gestural precision into focus. Grey Line in Seven Parts describes a three-dimensional space via right-angled, cement lines, two of which finish in the outstretched fingers of a hand. Inspired by the movement language of George Balanchine and Bob Fosse, these hands inflect the whole work as a piece of choreography. Its clarity of line and volume reminds one of a dancer’s formalized anatomy and sensitized relationship to space, detail, and balance. Silver glitter crudely decorates the backs of these hands. The sculpture is covered in cement stubble. A textured, performative awkwardness emerges, as does an awareness of any body bound in its own training, whatever kind that may be. Grey Line in Six Parts sports a single glittery hand and a weathered jazz shoe at the tips of its cement segments. The shoe’s scuffed leather brings a sense of time to the piece. The ageing process inflicts Cohen’s sculptural bodies even as they humbly rehearse the self-conscious glitter of performance, of art, of figuration.
In Packages, Vlatka Horvat photographs herself wrapped and concealed in ten different ways. Horvat disappears in a cardboard box marked with the words “X-LARGE” or dissolves behind a cloud of packing peanuts stuffed into a clear, plastic trash bag. The narration, suffocation, and censorship of the female body spring to mind as does the odd, somewhat playful guesswork of what one might put in the box. Horvat’s body in absentia flits from metonym to metaphor to emptiness. These notions of displacement sweep in to dissemble, destabilize and, in ways, to protect Horvat from a symbolism in for which she would not stand. Horvat’s photographic archive provides her with self-portraits and other imagery that she has dissected and reassembled in a series of Frankensteinic collages. In her Hybrids (1-10) she fuses her torso to a lamppost, replaces her head with a faucet, her legs with bricks, or some vaguely recognizable appliance. These combinations cut bizarre silhouettes that question any one likeness to be found of Horvat in her work. Body parts, environmental objects and Horvat herself are reassociated as numerous, allegorical figureheads without a storyline.
Images: Vlatka Horvat, Hybrids (2006-2008); Jennifer Cohen, Grey Line in Seven Parts (2008). Courtesy Rachel Uffner Gallery.