Image Above: ©Livia Corona Benjamin (Manhattan Transfer Installation 6)
Sgorbati Projects presented an exhibition of sculpture and photography by Livia Corona Benjamin. This was Corona Benjamin’s first solo show in New York. The exhibition’s title, Manhattan Transfer, suggested the expectation of promise embedded in specific geographic locations. For Corona Benjamin, who was born in Mexico and currently lives in New York, this theme runs parallel to artistic practice—Manhattan being the assumed epicenter of artistic achievement. The exhibition included two ongoing bodies of work: English as a Second Language (2015-) is a series of sculptures that pair English language idioms with trade-goods of colonization and current cultural commodities. Infinite Rewrite (2014-) is a series of unique photographs created from a single negative, and modified through experimentation in an analog color darkroom. Important to Corona Benjamin is the state of arriving and the repetition of task often associated with this process—the mechanical aspects of getting there. Visually disparate, the works in both series echo the stream-of-consciousness narrative and interwoven stories present in the 1925 John Dos Passos novel from which the exhibition’s title is taken.
©Livia Corona Benjamin (Manhattan Transfer Installation 2)
©Livia Corona Benjamin (Manhattan Transfer Installation 1)
The seventeen photographs exhibited as part of Infinite Rewrite (2014-) use and reuse a single image taken by the artist as part of her extensive documentation of repurposed grain silos, the architectural remnants of a flawed and abandoned agricultural program instituted by the Mexican government. The conical building, devoid of its original purpose and function, becomes a Tabula Rasa for the artist’s light studies as an indefinite exercise. Through an analog process, the image is fractured into marks of color not present in the original black-and-white negative. Resembling tightly formed brushstrokes, these marks overlap and recombine to form shifting optical patterns. The obscured but emergent image is thus stripped of any discernible sociological or documentarian intent. Acknowledged is the immigrant's evolving heritage and inevitable shedding of political baggage from the Old Country” in the process of assimilation and becoming Naturalized. One work in the series, Dream Acts (2015), whose colors are derived from the LGBT pride flag, reintroduces a political narrative disjointed from pictorial subject matter. Referenced is the fight for marriage equality, celebrating, after a lengthy holding pattern, one fulfillment of American promise.
©Livia Corona Benjamin, (Left: Dream Acts 2015; Right: Infinite Rewrite IV 2015)
©Livia Corona Benjamin, (Left: Infinite Rewrite XIV 2015; Right: Infinite Rewrite XVII 2015)
Images Courtesy: Sgorbati Projects