The second part of the MFA Thesis Exhibitions debuted on May 20, and works from artists Rachel Borenstein, Niloufar Emamifar, Miranda Javid, Joshua Ross and Eva Słapa went up on display.
Joshua Ross’s “Gold Is To Be Seen In Darkness” resides in the front part of the University Art Gallery. The exhibition employs the use of photography and fabric to bring out certain elements in the clothes depicted. A four by four grid of small canvases lie on the wall. Each canvas contains splotches reminiscent of a Rorschach test. On the other walls, framed photographs are filled with subjects posed in oversized fabrics and frozen in motion. The work references “In Praise of Shadows,” by Junichiro Tanizaki, whose writing postulates the development of Japan and China in the absence of the Western sphere of influence. The photography in the exhibition include the fabrics as a means to emote individualism and the varying compositions of the structures made are meant to explore ideas of desire, identity, intimacy, and agency.
Miranda Javid’s “Smoke’s Last Thought” musical film screening in the back part of the University Art Gallery was captivating. “Smoke’s Last Thought” contains hand-drawn sequences set to music and illustrates the movement of a flame that turns into smoke rising up and up and up into the sky. The story depicts the smoke reacting strongly to losing its distinguished brightness and form as a candle flame unsuccessfully tries to cling onto its previous form. The film begs the question, is an unfamiliar body inhabitable? The flame found itself in the body of smoke, shapeless and subject to external factors. The journey of the smoke explores the idea of a pluralistic community and the embodiment of parts making up a greater whole.
“Drunkard’s Walk” in the Room Gallery is the work of Eva Słapa. An array of glass bending and twisting in and out of each other fills the room. The glass tubes have been shaped in such a way that the interconnectivity and spread is reminiscent of a sort of closed system. Słapa’s work explores the idea of life as a “temporal process.” Dying, as it were, is another temporal process that leaves behind the trace of life in the form of heat. The woven setup illustrates the concept of remnants of a living being’s internal connected system. The heat, the blood, is not present, and thus decay remains, the framework of the system left intact.
Borenstein’s works are in the front section of the Contemporary Arts Center gallery. This section possesses a woody smell, due in part to the media used to create the individual works. These pieces are all components of the aptly titled “Memory Palace.” It’s meant to circle around the idea of memory and a tangible, physical world. The motif is the idea of entropy, increasingly evolving work into disorder and also one of reassembly from the fragments. This mechanism is much like how our memories work – recalled from our consciousness and subject to evolution and reconstruction. The collages of color, smattering of paint onto sprawling, yet isolated creations evoke this idea of a continual shift between higher order structures, the inherent tension and consequently, the fragility of their presence much like our recall of events and the interrelatedness between spatial and emotional senses..
The back of the Contemporary Arts Center Gallery contains Niloufar Emamifar’s work, “Public Air”. The exhibit appeared shockingly sparse. The color blue sticks out the most. Upon closer inspection, the blue belongs to a series of two shelf-like stretched branches on the wall. Both glisten in the light like they’re wet and saturated in color.. According to the program guide, Emamifar apparently conducted interviews with the City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning discussing “the trade and commercialization of ‘air rights’ and the legal status of blue property lines that are used to illustrate boundaries on Zone Information and Map Access System (ZIMAS).” The exhibition itself is minimalistic relative to the prior exhibits and thus its effect is significantly pronounced.
Overall, the variation in the media of the exhibits is quite fascinating and the amount of work put into these creations is evident from first glance. Ross’ photographs, Borenstein’s sprawling collages, Javid’s painstaking animation, Słapa’s shaped glass circulatory system, and Emamifar’s representation of ZIMAS blue property lines were all visually engaging and thought-provoking. The exhibits will be up until June 2.