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The Body, The Object, The Other

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Catalogue for the 2020 exhibition, The Body, The Object, The Other, at CAFAM (Craft Contemporary).

Craft Contemporary’s second clay biennial examines contemporary ceramic practices that start with the human figure as the basis for material and conceptual experimentation. The exhibition presents works from twenty-one emerging and established artists who challenge traditional notions of the body, the self, and systems of representation. Works in the exhibition include sculptural objects, site-specific installations, and performative works.

The relationship between the human body and clay stretches back to the beginning of humankind, with countless creation myths that assert humans came from earth. The recurrence of these stories throughout time and geography speaks to an inherent connection between the human form and clay, and the human need to understand oneself by molding one’s image in clay. Clay is also a distinctly malleable material and thus a medium particularly suited to record and expose the gestures of the artist, whether physical, psychological, or political. This malleability extends beyond its physical properties into the emotional and conceptual realms. Indeed, clay’s plasticity lends itself particularly well as a metaphor for the fluidity of the self.

With an elastic understanding of the self in mind, the artists included in the exhibition approach the theme through unconventional and oftentimes abstract means, drawing from postcolonial, feminist, queer, and craft theories, often blending categories beyond recognition or reversing their expected dynamics. At a time when hierarchical systems of representation are being questioned with more intensity and historically marginalized communities are demanding to be recognized, the exhibition artists use their deep understanding of clay to make work that challenges and expands these structures.

Exhibition Artists: Alex Anderson, Jenny Hata Blumenfield, Jason Briggs, Cassils, Sharif Farrag, Nicki Green, Phyllis Green, Raven Halfmoon, Roxanne Jackson, Anabel Juárez, Cynthia Lahti, Galia Linn, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Gerardo Monterrubio, Brie Ruais, Anders Herwald Ruhwald, Nicole Seisler, Meghan Smythe, Cammie Staros, Wanxin Zhang, and Bari Ziperstein. 

Craft Contemporary, 2020, softcover, 9.5 x 6.25 in, 49 pages.