Currently on view at Herald St Gallery in London, the New York-based artist Jessi Reaves has opened a new show of work, ‘Going out in style,’ which marks a continued evolution in her practice and her second exhibition with the London space. Presenting works that are contradictory in their forms and perceived functions, often oscillating between sculpture and furniture while never quite fitting squarely into either category, the artist’s work underscores a particularly resonant series of concepts and conundrums in the landscape of the present.
Reaves’s works are marked by difference and contrast, by the tension of their creation and seeming process of deconstruction. In one work, a piece of fabric resembling a slipcover is trashed, dotted with holes and draped over a rust-colored container that hints at an ongoing process of decay, of makeshift convenience, and of playful, willful destruction of forms. Yet at the same time, these works are never fully allowed to follow that line of breakdown to its natural conclusion, instead hanging back and holding on to that same sense of chaos in a manner that drives at the junction between material and process, art and design. One work, ‘Scrap Jacket Chair’ plays with this in particular, presenting in a manner that always holds the viewer away from the object it is supposed to display. Turning the work and its perceived purposes away from the viewer, and this time even turning away a perceived interior, the artist turns gestures previously thought of as inviting or welcoming into enigmatic deflections. Her sculptural intervention is here turned towards keeping the viewer on the outside, rendering the original functionality of her chosen form relatively useless.
This sense of deconstruction mentioned earlier, then, might perhaps be extended into the whole process of creation. Reaves’s work seems obsessed with futility, with the production of objects that are never “used,” but instead are held aloft as peculiar sites where logic is inverted but never becomes a concrete law of the space surrounding it. Leaving the viewer with a sense of cognitive dissonance and sudden abandon of recognizable graphical tropes, the viewer must contend with just the “what” is that they are viewing, and, what its function truly is.
The show closes January 25th.
— D. Creahan
Jessi Reaves [Herald St]