Low Utopia, by Heidi Jensen
Low Utopia, a solo exhibition by Heidi Jensen, will be on display at the Mooney Center Gallery from Saturday, January 24, through February 15, 2015.
My work is driven by the observed world, and my drawings are a hybrid of the witnessed and the imagined. The subjects of my drawings have, at their root, a suggestion of utility. The forms are designed to be used by or on the body, or amplify the body’s form and function. The Confection drawings depict impossible objects of desire, based on a 17th century linen millstone ruff. The opening echoes the form of the neck, passageway for the intake of breath. Shifting contour lines are employed to suggest interior life and fluttering movement. Influenced by Buddhist thought, these drawings are meditations on the elusive nature of desire, an acknowledgement of its potential to transfix and delude. Drawings and soft sculpture from my 2014 Equipment, series continue this exploration. Sketches of sports equipment such as baseball mitts and boxing gloves accompany these drawings. The leather surfaces of these subjects, a borrowed and tougher skin, inform the detailed Tranquilizers and Dummies.
A thread running throughout my work is confusion of the animate and inanimate. Political theorist Jane Bennett defines materiality as “a rubric that tends to horizontalize the relations between humans, biota and abiota.’ I am interested in this unstacking of hierarchies, and in Bennett’s observation that what we view as inert, lifeless matter has agency that needs to be recognized. If we view bodies as porous and matter as an active agent, the physical world becomes less fixed and more fluid, categories are destabilized. I am proposing objects of an unruly nature that inhabit this zone. Drawings from the Brush and Sample series feature a blend of functional objects with living surfaces suggestive of tissue, hair, fur or cotton wadding. Henry Bergson described objects as those things that have been “cut from the world.” These subjects are presented as biological specimens, centered within the composition and surrounded by white space. The unrepentant, impudent decadence of the Baroque and the composite form of the Surrealist object are influences. In Anais Nin’s diaries, she discusses the consolation of objects, and lists those that attract her: silver paper, pearl-headed pins, a white leather purse. We create objects to do our bidding, yet that relationship can reverse, they act on and influence us.