Curated by Mara Baldwin
Susan Stewart’s book, On Longing, maps the pursuit of human yearning and desire into chapters: Description and the Book, The Miniature, The Gigantic, The Imaginary Body, The Souvenir, and The Collection. Artists featured in A Kind of Ache lean into unique longings, obsessing over size, scale, shape, ideas, color, and fastidious labor. While all of the artists in A Kind of Ache participate in repetition as an act of their labor, it manifests in their work in variegated ways—be it through the painstaking macramé manipulation of electrical wires of Dana Hemenway or the thousands of unique posed homoerotic nudes taken over the career of mid-20th century physique-photographer Bruce of Los Angeles. While some artists obsess outwardly, such as the inscrutably hyper-detailed diaristic drawings of Elise Engler, others narrow in on more fixated subject, such as in Patti Capaldi’s pared-back photographic renderings. All of the artists additionally share personal relationships with collecting and thrifting from which found objects are freed from their original context and given more agency, such as in Liliana Porter’s narrative staging of mundane knick-knacks and mementos, the meticulous hand-made stop-motion animations featuring everyday textiles and recycled materials by experimental filmmaker Jodie Mack, or the oversized sculptures of Bill Hastings whose biologic forms unwittingly mimic those found in his collection of several thousand ubiquitous but obsolescent flower frogs, used in bouquet arrangement. All of these intersecting sensibilities share an undercurrent of obsession, a driving force behind desire for or pursuit of the unattainable. Using Stewart’s book as a compass, this exhibition considers the role of longing in how artists make sense of, or reinterpret their subjects, sources, and surroundings.