“Selfhood: The Space Between” opens December 1 and runs through December 12, 2017 at Nous Tous Gallery, and is presented by Honey Power Club, a feminist music and arts collective based in Los Angeles. The group exhibition and programming series speculates on identity as a potent subject, object, and tool of artists. “Selfhood” locates the conversation around identity amongst eight women artists, and doing so positions itself against a male gaze and masculine art history. From the artists’ perspectives, this urgent conversation is stretched and pulled across media to reveal identity’s fluid nature, and the strength in this fluidity. The title of the exhibition, “Selfhood: The Space Between,” introduces a change of indeterminacy to identity; identity tends to slip and slide in the spaces between similarities and differences, understandings of oneself and one another.
The exhibition features eight artists – Hobbes Ginsburg, Paige Emery, Olive Kimoto, Jess Garten, Meagan Mueller, Gabriella Sanchez, Mukta Mohan, Reichel Hertzler – working across a variety of media and genres, including video, painting, sculpture, photography, collage, sound, and installation. Emery, Kimoto, and Mohan are members of Honey Power, whose “main goal is to create community, support, and celebrate musicians, artists, and change-makers and inspire thought provoking conversation.” The other artists are from the Los Angeles community and were invited by Honey Power to take part in the exhibition. Each artist is based in Los Angeles and self-identifies as a woman, though each are from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and associations with Honey Power. Each artist presents a unique self to the viewer. In Mukta Mohan’s interactive sound piece, Persistence of Memory, the complex collection of selves is extended even wider across LA as one listens to anonymous voicemails answering the question, “What song do you associate most with love and heartbreak?” An unidentified self also appears as a dancing figure in Olive Kimoto’s The Soft Glow of One’s Computer Screen, projected onto and further blurred by a translucent, blowing fabric.
The connective tissue across selfhoods is further developed by the public programming that accompanies the exhibition. During the show’s run, Honey Power presents performances by Honey Power DJs, Maya Postepski, and Intimatchine with multi-media artist Cade. Music and its connective force is a backbone of the Honey Power collective, which was first organized as a group of friends and DJs. Along with music events, “Selfhood” hosts an evening of poetry reading and performance, an artist talk, a discussion group, a full moon gathering, and a self portrait workshop. Self–portraiture and portraiture take many forms in this exhibition: In Gabriella Sanchez’s A Nation A Nobody (Self Portrait), the artist has abstracted her image in striking mixed media. Artist Paige Emery presents six vibrantly painted portraits of six individuals. Light shines from behind and between her bold brushstrokes as each portrait is painted on glass.
A search for cohesion in this show is perhaps misguided – a summarized woman’s view of self is not presented here. Rather, “Selfhood” invites one to attend to the space between and across a diverse collection of selves. The promise of the exhibition’s title is of difference and dynamism and its artists and artwork respond beautifully. “Selfhood: The Space Between” does not present a uniform, solid idea of identity, but rather seeks to more deeply understand how different histories and materials of identity position us in relation to one another. As Honey Power writes, “to celebrate our ambiguities and inconsistencies is to both accept ourselves and to find common ground among our different experiences, broadening our relationships with society, community, and a larger sense of self.”
Written By: Clara Scholtz
Special Thanks to Tsing Tao