Artists’ talks in the galleries at 4pm followed by a reception from 5 until 7 pm. The exhibition runs January 12 - February 17.
Seeing and Being Seen
Hannah Israel’s exhibition Seeing and Being Seen considers the way we map our existence, develop kinship among disparate parts and imagine a multitude of new possibilities. Her work emerges in response to the phenomena of space, time, memory, and relationships. In Seeing and Being Seen, she alludes to the consequences of the past, choices we make, and the potential of the future. Interested in searching for meaning in the marks people leave behind, Hannah creates traces that imply residues or memory of past experiences. She communicates moments by illustrating how fragile language can be and how predictable our experiences can be based on the temperament of the world around us.
Israel continues to contemplate language by searching meaning in the shape of things and marks people leave behind. Through her work she creates traces that imply residues or memories of past experiences. Simulating these moments are difficult to do without changing the initial experience. Baudrillard stresses the significance of Simulacra is based on the word simulate, “To dissimulate is to feign not to have what one has,” he said. Simulation threatens the difference between the true and the false and the real and the imaginary and there are no longer reference points, only emptied signs.
According to Israel, simulation threatens our rational world. Human traces can exist as real, imaginative, and symbolic. Israel's work becomes moments of contemplation, according to Lacan, the human subject is always split between the conscious side, a mind that is accessible, and the unconscious side, a series of drives and forces which remain inaccessible. Because we experience “something missing," we desire to close it, to fill it, to replace it with another, a new language or a new way of understanding."
Sarah Hobbs and Hannah Israel investigate marks of human presence by observing how different cultures function throughout history. There is an intrinsic connection between how we make history, think, and leave our mark on the world.
Service Merchandise contemplates the way our culture memorializes the act of presenting objects as commodities and gifts to represent a moment of desire. The installation is saturated with images of objects on the walls, large obscure sculptures rotating in the middle of the space, and in the background, a presence of muzak brings together a phantasmagoria showcase. Israel and Hobbs amplify the absurdity of our culture's obsession with objects by setting a hyper-real display under black light creating an illusion and deceptive appearances.
In this installation, Hobbs and Israel illustrate the object’s power to create desire. Lacan states, "Objet petit a” is a fantasy that functions as the cause of desire; as such, it determines whether desire will be expressed within the limits of the pleasure principle or “beyond,..” Hobbs and Israel investigate showcases as a form of display and lure. They connect multiple ways desire is experienced from the moment of looking, wrapping and giving. For example, the purpose of wrapping is a daily human practice of using one object to frame another object as important.
Israel and Hobbs illustrate the act of wrapping objects, a practice that exemplifies power and desire through the hierarchy of objects as gifts. The art historian Cynthia Hahn has recently labeled this phenomenon the “reliquary effect.” The idea of religious relics as objects of power is created by those who wish to elevate both the objects and the owner. As crafted receptacles, reliquaries are typically beautiful and refined. They function two ways, one is to enclose an object and the other is to sensationalize the idea of the object. The container sets the stage of mystery and preciousness, that both hides and reveals. In Hahn’s observation, the “reliquary finds its purpose in stimulating attention and capturing desire.” This ties in how we present objects on display. It represents the fleeting nature of human experience, the birth and death of objects and ideas throughout history. Ultimately, the installation is a psychological space, inviting viewers to a new understanding of the shape of all things.
Israel and Hobbs' investigation touches on multiple intersections of desire based on the presentation and commodification of objects. They allude to the mechanism of the tease and the allure of the Wunderkammen, or cabinets of curiosity, were private spaces, created and formed around a deeply held belief all things were linked to one another through either visible or invisible similarities. People believed by detecting those visible and invisible similarities between objects, they would understand how the world functioned, and what humanity’s place in it was.
Hannah Israel lives and works in Columbus, GA. She is currently a Professor of Art and the Gallery Director at Columbus State University. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture at University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Israel has exhibited her work at the Poem88 Gallery in Atlanta GA, Whitespace in Atlanta GA, Kentler International Drawing Space NYC, Columbus Museum GA, High Museum of Art GA, Zuckerman Museum of Art GA, The Vargas Museum of Art in the Philippines, Museum of Contemporary Art in Honolulu, I-Space in Chicago, the Krannert Art Museum, among others. Hannah Israel has received the Daedalus Art Grant (NYC), the Columbus State University Faculty Grant, the Creative and Performance Art Fellowship at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, IL and the Artist Fellowship at Cornell University, NY among others.