New York City, NY
Swiss Institute is pleased to present the first institutional solo exhibition in the United States of Olga Balema. For Early Man, Balema has created a new series of works using maps and globes from a range of origins and periods, which she has variously painted on and affixed with cast latex breasts.
Using large expanses of color, Balema has painted over a number of large schoolroom style maps, which display population statistics, geographical borders and average temperatures. Predominately outdated, these highlight the limits of a cartographic impulse to capture a world constantly in flux. Picking out geographical areas based on shape and composition, washing over text and obscuring information, Balema renders these pedagogical, authoritative displays both messily fluid and obsolescent. The maps’ lofty ambitions to objectively analyze the world are dragged towards the earthbound by the addition of lumpy breasts, which sag and protrude in tragicomic fashion. This pull towards the floor hints at a material exhaustion, suggesting that the historic personification of the Earth as a nurturing mother might be seen as something closer to a tired mom. Corporeal in presence, the works express altering states of fecundity and depletion.
As part of Early Man, Balema has invited artist Juliette Blightman to write a newly commissioned text on the themes of the exhibition, which is entitled Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! meine Brust, which is available in the gallery.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website