September 6th - October 4th, 2014
The Center for Ongoing Research & Projects is pleased to present Sabrina Gschwandtner’s Camouflage, a quilt constructed from two 16mm films, one de-accessioned from the Fashion Institute of Technology and the other purchased on eBay. The artist dismantled the narratives of these two historical films and re-interpreted their thematic concerns by sewing them into the traditional “sunshine and shadow” American quilt motif. The work contrasts dark footage from an industrial textile manufacturing film that shows how fabric was made at the Bradford Dyeing Association in Rhode Island with lighter footage from an instructional children’s film about shadows. Bradford Dyeing, which provided camouflage to the United States military, opened before the Civil War, but closed in 2011 after years of labor rights abuses and environmental pollution. The film falsely paints a picture of happy workers. Shadows, Shadows Everywhere (1972) shows two children making shadow puppets in front of a piece of cloth and looking at shadows created by the sun. In combining the two films the artist wanted to represent the idea of camouflage in multiple ways, and acknowledge that whenever you shed light on something, you also make a shadow.
The images that appear in the quilt are primarily of hands engaged in productive and playful work. They mirror the artist’s own manual labor, as well as the history of tactile engagement with cinematic materials. Gschwandtner’s practice brings together experimental filmmaking methods with the forgotten history of early cinema, which borrowed sewing machine mechanisms for advancing sprocket holes, and employed women as editors because of their agile sewing fingers. By running her thread through the sprocket holes, Gschwandtner stitches together the histories of film and craft by bringing together the multiple meanings of “suture.”
In conjunction with the exhibition, COR&P will publish Flowers for the Audience, a collection of interviews and notes on the topic of film editing. The book features interviews between Gschwandtner and Leslie Thornton and Pat Ferrero, two filmmakers who have influenced and inspired her work, alongside research materials from her studio practice and images of recent quilts.
The opening reception for Camouflage will be held on Saturday, September 6th from 6 - 8pm.
About the Artist
Sabrina Gschwandtner lives in Brooklyn and works in New York City, and has screened and exhibited her artwork internationally at institutions including: the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and The Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Her work has been written about or included in The New York Times, Modern Painters, Artforum, Frieze, Cabinet, The Washington Post, and Der Standard. Her film quilts are in the permanent collections of the RISD Museum, the Philbrook Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among other public and private collections worldwide. She received a BA from Brown University and an MFA from Bard College.