Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
Descent animates alternative modes and materials of inheritance across generations of families, artists, and artworks. While inheritance, influence, and other acts of transmission often move down vertical lines of property and patrimony, the works in this exhibition unsettle this passage with forms of heredity that are often undervalued or unconventional: used or surplus possessions, intergenerational collaborations, maternal memories and matter, transatlantic journeys, spoken words, and sound waves.
The distinct smell of cedar emanates from Virginia Overton’s work, composed of wood planks harvested from the artist’s family farm in Tennessee. This raw substance infuses the space of the gallery with the sensuous specificity of Overton’s inherited matter. Notes from Underground (2013), a video projection by Lisa Tan, excavates the subterranean and sonic echoes between the artist’s and Susan Sontag’s experiences as expatriates in Stockholm. As the work unfolds, it thickens with multisensory strata of various affective encounters with disruption and displacement. Runo Lagomarsino’s video installation traces the shared transatlantic journeys of the artist and his father through the illicit itinerary of a dozen eggs, which travel from Buenos Aires to São Paulo to their final destination in Seville before a statue commemorating Christopher Columbus’s own voyage.
In many of these works, maternal transmissions dovetail with questions around performance and reproduction. Karina Aguilera Skvirsky’s Los poemas que declamaba mi mamá (The Poems My Mother Recited) (2010–present) restages the Ecuadorian poetry recitals of the artist’s mother, who became well-known for her dramatic readings. Matriarch, comprised of artists Maren Hassinger and her daughter, Ava Hassinger, will create new work out of used ICA office supplies and detritus from previous exhibitions, arranging these site-specific residues into mandala structures in and among videos. Both Aguilera Skvirsky and Matriarch will perform in their respective installations on the evening of May 11.
Transmissions within and across artworks and artists reverberate throughout the gallery as unexpected genealogies and unruly inheritance. This exhibition considers the aesthetic, sensory, and social horizons that emerge when we dissent from traditional lines of descent.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website