Glitches & Veils
Glitches & Veils
We are excited to present Glitches & Veils, a solo exhibition of new and recent sculptural paintings by Emma Safir comprised of photographic collages printed on textiles, curated by Sally Eaves Hughes. The exhibition mediates the artist’s material exploration of feminized and digital labor. Utilizing the hypervisible and feminized labor of textiles as a powerful metaphor, Safir interrogates the ethics of different modes of labor and how they are gendered—including the invisible labor of digital life that generates visible effects. “Because the domestic and feminized sphere was considered private, unsightly, and lesser, the highly skilled day-to-day labor and activities such as sewing and embroidery fell to the wayside in their cultural importance—in the scope of capitalism,” says Safir. “I would argue that this labor, one that is so literally visible, like fastidious embroidery, is actually an invisible sort of labor, one that is has been historically dismissed and undervalued, not just in the market and day to day life in the United States, but also in the “fine art” world.” The exhibition asks the viewer to consider how labor is valued and where digital and sewn techniques fall in that assessment. Glitches & Veils opens on February 23 and will remain on view at Baxter St gallery until March 26, 2022. It is part of the organization’s annual guest-curated series that invites curators to propose a project that will expand the notion of lens-based practices and is selected by a jury of Baxter St supporters.
Glitches & Veils features works from three of Safir’s recent series, Rewound Glitch, Veils, and Woven Mirrors. Each work begins with a range of instinctive photographs by Safir, including images of windows, fabric, and nature within a domestic context. Scanned and superimposed, the resulting photographic collages are printed on fabric. Safir then employs traditional textile techniques such as weaving, smocking, and upholstery to further abstract, build up, and manipulate the images. In these works, Safir considers the boundless interactions we have with digital interfaces and the assumption and desire that we would have autonomy in the use of our own screens. Questioning society’s obsession with hardness and simplicity, Safir’s panels smock the grid, emphasizing the materiality of the image in an ever-expanding digital landscape.
“Safir’s work embodies the invisible labor performed by female-identifying workers in the digital and textile realm,” says the exhibition’s curator Sally Eaves Hughes. “She offers a critical approach to the making, manipulation and distribution of images, and the effect of screens on perception and our bodies.” The artist creates soft, ambivalent objects that function as screen simulations, proxies, and portals. Convex and both absorbing and emanating light, her paintings slow down the texture, colors, and experience of screens to dissect and make clear their expressive dimension and impact. Her work “glitches” images and their associated memories and brings them back together in a way that creates space for viewers to reconsider their own memories. Situating Safir’s practice in the context of Baxter St puts her in conversation with a community of people who are committed to the expressive potential of image-making.
Alongside the exhibition, free public programming will be accessible to Baxter St’s community of engaged creators. Highlights include a conversation with Safir, Hughes, and Ebony Haynes and a workshop on digital labor and invisibility with designer Luiza Dale.
This exhibition is part of Baxter St’s Guest-Curated Program and is made possible with the support of the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation.
Emma Safir (b. 1990 NYC) is an artist who employs material exploration and manipulation of fabric through weaving techniques, smocking, lens-based media, rasterization, upholstery, among other methods. Her work functions as screen simulations, proxies and portals. Safir is interested in hierarchies of labor, especially in their relationship to gender and digitization. Safir holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in Printmaking and an MFA from the Yale School of Art in Painting & Printmaking. She has exhibited recently at SHIN HAUS at Shin Gallery, Lyles & King, Pentimenti Gallery and TW Fine Art. She is currently an Artist in Residence at the Textiles Art Center in Brooklyn, and a participant in the Interdisciplinary Art and Theory Program in Manhattan. Safir lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Sally Eaves Hughes is a curator and writer based in New York. Her research focuses on abstraction, materiality, and geo-politics. A 2021–2022 Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow in the Whitney Independent Study Program, Hughes holds a master’s degree in Modern and Contemporary Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies from Columbia University. Her curated exhibitions are Common Space at Oolite Arts, Miami (2021) and Mary Sibande at the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies, New York (2019). Recently, she contributed to the development of exhibitions including Carl Craig, Sam Gilliam, and Dorothea Rockburne at Dia Art Foundation as well as Visibility Machines. Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen and My Barbarian at Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago. Her writing has been published in Art in America, Art Papers, The Brooklyn Rail, and Sculpture Magazine.