There is no secret as such; I deny it. And this is what I confide in secret to whomever allies himself to me. This is the secret of the alliance – Jacques Derrida, “How to Avoid Speaking”
This has been a year of silences, of negative space, and secrets that keep watch over the unsayable. There is a kind of extravagance in this reserve – a mix of silent films and lingerie, puppets and wallpaper, unfixed photographs haunted by coded voices. Even the wolves and lionesses, decked out in wigs and spandex, are restrained, their steady gaze knowing, but not telling.
Perhaps in 2010, idealism is beyond words. Heroic insights have been too often used as footnotes for texts written by rote, and the risk of emptying out language overtakes the hope of discovery through communication. Here, gritty concrete blocks perfume the air, and severed heads hang silent below a patio umbrella. There is a kind of rambling growth; webs of linked ideas, which climb studio walls like ivy, proliferations of cast-off lumber that balance on scales meant for morning weigh-ins, lit by copulating clip-lights. A strange soft shape, almost a cheese, clings lightly to the wall.
Deadlines lend a furtive urgency to human labor, mothers, grandmothers, and daughters knitting as fast as they can, a woman who has always described herself as a director begins her film in the last months of her studies. This work does not lead to outspoken manifestos, but to the creation of delirious worlds, which resist translation. Internet chat-roulette and reality TV and have given us an intimate understanding of vulnerability as menacing, and physical and psychological violence as banal yet imminent. Memories of land mines, urban decay, and murder cross continents to link up within the narrative of a single life, while the delicate painted texture of industrial rubble emerges as the substance of both figure and ground.
These artists have held their secrets close, yet in that very closeness, they have shared in the alliance Derrida evokes. It has been a special pleasure to camp with them on the shores of this negation.
-Nancy Barton, Chair, New York, NY 2010