Ellen Khansefid and Marisa Marofske
February 20th - March 24th, 2021
The Sublime Directory
Ours is a world in vertigo. It is a world that swarms with technological mediation, interlacing our daily lives with abstraction, virtuality, and complexity. Xenofeminism constructs a feminism adapted to these realities: a feminism of unprecedented cunning, scale, and vision; a future in which the realization of gender justice and feminist emancipation contribute to a universalist politics assembled from the needs of every human, cutting across race, ability, economic standing, and geographical position. No more futureless repetition on the treadmill of capital, no more submission to the drudgery of labor, productive and reproductive alike, no more reification of the given masked as critique. Our future requires depetrification. XF is not a bid for revolution, but a wager on the long game of history, demanding imagination, dexterity and persistence.
Excerpt from The Xenofeminist Manifesto: A Politics for Alienation by Laboria Cuboniks
The Sublime Directory is a collaboration between two Los Angeles based artists, Ellen Khansefid and Marisa Marofske. On view are a collection of artworks made primarily on site, including mortar sculptures, digital collage, prints, and paintings. These works draw from ideas expressed in Laboria Cuboniks’ 2018 Xenofeminist Manifesto. The artists use the present-day language of signs, street symbols, iconography, advertisements, memes, and humor to suggest a future rooted in imagination and emancipation.
In Melting H Sculpture, 2021, an isolated letter H is realized in concrete and wire, standing removed from any familiar context. The form is slumped over, as if pulled directly from the side of a neighborhood market and left to melt into the pavement. The bold blue and yellow form, outlined in a graphic black shadow, exists as a surreal reminder of the mundane and its understated effect on the viewer. The painted bricks slope and curve unnaturally, rendering the object both familiar and strange.
Khansefid and Marofske began their process with digital collage, using images taken from street photographs of Los Angeles and advertisements from the past and present. Upon arriving in Baton Rouge, the artists continued to synthesize this material through a variety of mediums and techniques, working together and apart on the various elements of each piece. When taken as a whole, the artworks interact with one another like a large-scale collage, isolating and drawing attention to the strangeness of the mundane and the changeability of perceived reality. Using materials such as linoleum, mortar, paint, and ink, the artists explore the potential to realize a different future through the reframing of current realities.
In Index Flag, 2021, a printed flag is hung from the ceiling. The flag is opaque and mysterious; an arm wearing a red velvet glove reaches into frame, but is only visible through an overlaid digitized-flower motif. The arm suggests an altered, invisible humanity, existing behind the icon of nature, which has been repurposed in an aestheticized and ‘un-natural’ form. The flag serves as symbol for an envisioned future in which humanity succeeds in rising above nature, leaving possibilities for new creation that are not beholden to outmoded prescriptions.
Printed window decals (Sublime Directory #1 and #2, 2021) display several toy capsules, containing artifacts of domestic and technological daily life. The contents of each toy point to technologies that attempt to transcend nature, and versions of reality that we may take for granted as given. The bottom of cookware, data cables, signage, housing developments, and animals entice the viewer towards a variety of options available, where reality can be thought of as something one may pick and choose from.
An overarching theme of the Xenofeminist Manifesto is that if nature is unjust, change nature. The idea that ‘natural’ means something correct, pure, and more valued is challenged. The artworks in this exhibition embody this attitude. The rejection of the concept of a ‘correct’ and ‘natural’ state of being opens the door for the possibilities of a new, different, and strange world. The Sublime Directory asks the viewer to dispense with their assumptions at the door and enter into a world where jarring juxtapositions bring new understanding to our everyday surroundings.
Ellen Khansefid (b. 1992, Los Angeles, CA) lives and works in Los Angeles. Working primarily in drawing, painting, and sculpture, Khansefid’s focus resides in figuration, pulling themes from art history and personal experience. She draws reference from printed media and pop culture. She obtained a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2014. www.ellenkhansefid.com
Marisa Marofske (b. 1992, Chicago, IL) is an artist based in Los Angeles, CA. Her paintings, architectural installations, community organizing, and furniture projects seek to examine the spatial dimensions of urban life on a personal scale. www.marisamarofske.com
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