Heaven Gallery, Chicago, IL
May 18th – June 24th 2018
Monster is the first solo exhibition in the US of Australian-born, US based artist, Santina Amato. In this exhibition, Amato contemplates the idea of performance in the everyday both within the public and private realm, presenting ceramic vessels designed to ‘perform’ using freshly made bread dough alongside a series of cryptic painted works on paper and an epistolary to an unknown reader.
The opening night of Monster saw Amato ‘activating’ one of the ceramic vessels on exhibit. Through the ritual of women gathering to make food (a tradition passed on by Amato’s Italian mother), four women, including the artist, made 50 pounds of fresh dough in situ, to stuff into the largest ceramic vessel within the exhibition, measuring around 28” x 16” and weighing around 60 pounds. The performance then shifted from the ritual of making foodstuff by a group of women, to the activation of the ceramic vessel where the rising of the dough physically transformed the sculpture, spewing out onto its surface.
Exhibited at once and all together but activated individually throughout the exhibition period, the penultimate experience of the dough’s post-performance varying stages of decay, becomes an integral part of the work: the yeast ferments, consuming the gallery with the stench of the dough’s initial stage of ‘decay’, until it eventually dries out, becoming a brittle, yet essential, extension to the ceramic form. Referring to the work as Re-Performing Sculptures, Amato’s ceramic vessels require maintenance, care, and attention after each activated public or private performance: the ceramic vessel require its cavity to be cleaned out, post their prurient performance.
Assuming the role of supporting actor to both the ceramic vessels and the epistolary, the series of cryptic painted works on paper result in abstract reflections on the psychosexual nature of intimacy. They offer a pause among the exhibited works by acting as documents to a moment in an ongoing stage of metamorphosis.
An accompanying text, a rambling epistolary to an unknown reader where discussions on life, death, intimacy, desire, anxiety, the need for making art, and the thoughts leading up to the exhibition by the artist, provide a raw insight into questions of public performance, private expression, and the erotic tension that exists between these two modes of being. The writings reflect on public performance and private authenticity, ending in a space in which one finds a freedom from the loop.
Monster creates an environment that submerges the spectator into a constructed reality, a subjective experience where performing the grotesque aspects of female desire, manifests into a multidisciplinary stage for the Monster.
The works in this exhibition were created at ACRE Residency (Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions), Wisconsin (2017) & Process Park Residency (Artslant & Chashama), Upstate New York (2018).
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.