REVERSE SUMMER LAB: Liminal 8/8 – 8/11



Opening Reception: Thursday, 8/8 from 7-9 PM

Designed as a shared residency program at REVERSE, the SUMMER LAB is pleased to present ‘Liminal’, a dual exhibition featuring work by Audra Wolowiec and Alissa Blumenthal. Wolowiec, a Brooklyn-based artist from Detroit, Michigan, will present a new sound-sculpture hybrid alongside a series of drawings by Blumenthal, a little-known early American modernist who notably studied under Kazimir Malevich from 1920-1923.

Tentatively titled “Warm-up” (2013), Wolowiec’s sculpture is based on a sequence of leaning wooden beams that have been modified with embedded speakers, which in turn play recordings of performers and actors reciting daily voice exercises. The chirps, trills, grunts and breaths, which serve as the essential building blocks of the performers’ formal renditions and include a range of perfunctory and graphic utterances, are not originally intended for an audience. Likewise, the unfinished beams projecting their vocalizations are characteristic of interior joints, typically hidden as components of a larger foundational framework. Thus both sound and object occupy a liminal space, an in-betweenness that feels incomplete yet uncannily exposed and accessible to the viewer.

Blumenthal’s intimate drawings, which mark a crucial transition between the middle and late stages of the artist’s career in the early 1950s, are an unexpected counterpart to Wolowiec’s project, as they too signify a period of flux. Immigrating to the US in 1925, the Russian-born Blumenthal settled in New York, where she continued to explore abstract painting in the legacy of her constructivist roots. The drawings on view, however, depart from the reductive shapes and blunt forms that characterize her early paintings. The repetitive, monotonous marks are executed in a variety of experimental media – graphite, watercolor, and ink – and more explicitly expand the artist’s careful and studied use of the grid via controlled but nonetheless gestural traces. Blumenthal’s work, however, is ultimately complicated by the fact that she is a figment of the imagination of contemporary artist Tatiana Istomina, a fictional character developed in part as a conceptual device to address Istomina’s own desire to create abstract work. Istomina began producing work in the persona of Blumenthal last fall, steadily accumulating biographical details while continuing to expand her historical oeuvre.

The guttural vocal exercises recapitulated in Wolowiec’s sculpture are as absurd as Istomina’s historical myth is real, suggesting that the veracity of our senses is not to be trusted. At the same time, each experience is rooted in tangible phenomenon derived from existing voices, from concrete objects and artworks, establishing a living link within the gallery space that remains charged for the duration of the exhibition.  Both artists will also exhibit ancillary drawings and objects resulting from various ideas pursued while in residency at Reverse in order to further the underlying theme of transition and ephemerality.

Curated by Holly Shen Chaves

Download the ‘Liminal’ Press Release here.


REVERSE SUMMER LAB, a new artist residency program for the summer, is designed to allow artists the time, resources and community support to create new and innovative work in a collaborative and discursive atmosphere. Artists will have the opportunity to exhibit their work in the REVERSE gallery space during or directly following their residency term.

REVERSE SUMMER LAB will run from JULY 8 to AUGUST 16, 2013