Shiri Mordechay, The Theater (detail), 2021. Watercolor and ink on paper, 102 x 107 inches.
Theater of the Absurd
Dual exhibition of Roberto Clemente de Leon and Shiri Mordechay
Border Project Space, October 22- November 13, 2021
Curator: Nina Mdivani
Opening reception October 22 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm
In the dual show at the Border Project Space, Brooklyn-based drawer and painter Shiri Mordechay and South Carolina-based multidisciplinary artist Roberto Clemente de Leon will present six distinct works that challenge our understanding of shared reality and its norms. Viscerally connected to the Theater of the Absurd, one of the most distinguished cultural movements of XX century, Shiri Mordechay and Roberto Clemente de Leon dazzle with their alternative ways of seeing human society. The illusive narrative they work with might come across as dark, but nonetheless it is raw and real. As European playwrights Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet and Harold Pinter the two artists address the absurdity of the contemporary society. They construct works where humanlike figures, animals and hybrid creatures find their way from a subconsciousness into the daylight and also confront us with the way we treat them. Presenting the works at the Border Project Space known for its experimental approach is timely because both artists speak to the present. They offer a vision that could be our reality, but does not have to be if we make different choices. For Mordechay the setting is her psyche, a dimension that exists within the inner eye consisting of realism of this plane, but also of other imaginary planes. De Leon’s setting is any animal farm across the U.S. and the world where millions of animals are slaughtered based on popular demand.
Mordechay’s dense, large drawings with ink and watercolor consist of self-conscious figurative characters – people, animals, furniture, plants- all arriving in an organic form. Her characters are phantasmagoric and at the same time comic to an absurd degree. They are obscure, yet, they seduce us – as they act out traumas. Domesticated animals are protagonists for de Leon who uses clay, wood, and porcelain. He has consistently interrogated imagery of domestication due to his deep concern for the inhuman reality dominating the U.S. food industry, asking questions of how animals live and how their lives affect ours.
At a time when language is no longer needed in the modern society, largely becoming a barrier rather than way to connect, pantomime and theatrical gestures gain in significance. Therapeutic quality of laughing at our absurd state, at our inability to understand the depth of another person’s suffering can be achieved through looking. Art can stand in as it did throughout the disrupting realities of XX century Europe ravaged by human destructiveness and inhumanity. Existential loneliness of human being is the main plot of this exhibition and presented art is the means to grasp it.
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