“Hein Koh, Eyes Without a Face (detail) (2017). Acrylic, brass chain, felt, fiberfill, glitter, spandex, string, vinyl, 89” x 72” x 12””
“Knockdown Center is pleased to present Morir Soñando, a multimedia group exhibition on view June 22 – August 19, 2018. Artists Penn Eastburn, Valery Estabrook, Hein Koh, Joiri Minaya, Kristianne Molina, Onel Naar, Esther Ruiz, Cristina Tufiño, and Woolpunk engage with soft- ness and vulnerability in their work addressing contemporary social and political issues.”
“Morir Soñando borrows its name from the popular Dominican beverage, which quite literally translates into the expression “to die dreaming.” A frothy iced delight made from fresh orange juice and cold milk, morir soñando resists easy preparation. Given the acidity in the juice, if not made at the proper temperature or mixed with a particular rhythm, the milk has the potential to curdle. The intricacy of the process yields a satisfying end result—a careful, soft choreography infuses two unlikely ingredients in delicious harmony. Situated in New York City, a metropolis defined by its own fluid and constantly changing diasporas, morir soñando is a specific Caribbean cultural reference that, in this context, has the potential for similarly permeable interpretations.”
“The delicate process of making morir soñandos reflects the relationship between the artists’ use of materials and their social commentary. Working across painting, sculpture, textiles, and video, the artists included address difficult subjects like racial tensions, gender-based violence, neocolonial trauma, and environmental concerns in subtle, soft ways that employ care and attention to their engagement with materials. Within the work, fluid lines, pastel colors, and velvety textures are formal cues that help express the potential of vulnerability as a tool for liberation. Together, the works included convey alternative methodologies for compassion, which aim to prompt connection, solidarity, and healing.”
“Penn Eastburn’s painting, Have U Hugged Urself Today (2017), incorporates chaotic lines and frenzied patterns to distort an abstracted human figure whose gesture reads as one of self- care. Within the painting’s composition, an embrace enacted onto the form itself emphasizes the dire needs we feel for healing and human affection. In her hypnotic video work Eggbirth (2015), Valery Jung Estabrook uses her own mouth to birth an egg into the universe. Accompa- nying wall-mounted sculptures, Eggs #1, Eggs #2, and Eggs #3, contextualize the rich, hopeful landscapes upon which the birth takes place: eggs cracked, dripping onto dense miniature gardens of grass and pink flowers. Hein Koh’s Eyes Without a Face (2017) is a large-scale soft sculpture work portraying two eyes with teardrops hanging from the ceiling. Representative of a recurring theme in the artist’s work, twins and diptychs, Eyes Without a Face is physically soft while also depicting the vulnerable act of crying. Kristianne Molina’s Storyteller (2016) utilizes natural paint derived from a cochineal insect on repurposed textiles to create an abstracted personal narrative. Molina’s work with natural dyes and textiles stems from her engagement with her Phillipine roots – the colors extracted from cochineal specifically are linked to the colonization of the Philippines by American and Spanish settlers. Banana leaves function as tropical cultural markers in Colgão Diptych (2017), Onel Naar’s wall work that comprises of two complementary parts: a canvas covered with layered leaves and an empty frame. Throughout the course of the exhibition, the banana leaves will slowly wilt away, revealing the ephemeral nature of the work and consequently, the ephemerality of the natural environment.
Esther Ruiz’s mirrored wall works float like delicate clouds – pastel neons circle the perimeter of each organically-shaped mirror, encouraging viewers to actively engage with the work, peer into the mirror, and revisit their own reflections in a new, illuminated context. Cristina Tufiño mines various sources – from museological aesthetics to global pop culture – to contribute to the broad visual cues that inform her sculptural work. Utilizing pastel colors and smooth surfaces, Tufiño’s sculptures are often reminiscent of gendered bodies and tropical foliage. Tufiño’s delicate work refuses easy interpretation, complicating narratives about the exotic and subverting dangerous assumptions. Spanning from floor-to-ceiling, Woolpunk’s Walking Palm (2018) is a site-specific sculptural installation of a walking palm tree knitted in gold. Indigenous to rainforests in Central and South America, the walking palm tree is an at-risk species, it’s existence is now dependent on conservation efforts and Woolpunk’s intricate use of yarn to produce the work embody tender acts of concern and care.”
“A catalogue will be published to accompany the exhibition, featuring essays by the curator Alex Santana, scholars Marco Antonio Flores and Jade Thacker, as well as graphic design by Immanuel Yang. The publication will also include recipes for morir soñando, written by the curator’s family members.” Visit this link for information.