Through November 2nd.
Regarding TOBY (Wayfarers' Project Wall):
Noa Leshem-Gradus: Self-Portrait
This fall, Wayfarers is pleased to present Self-Portrait, a new site-responsive installation by Noa Leshem-Gradus. Comprised of two live-feed cameras placed in different parts of the gallery, plus an extended video of Leshem-Gradus’s 2011 sound piece, Shut-up honey (Protect Yourself), in which the artist played automated MTA announcements in Washington Square Park, Self-Portrait investigates issues of space, control, surveillance and privacy in the digital age. As one camera overlooksWayfarers’ front exhibition gallery, another camera is trained on Wayfarers’ multipurpose project space, and the feeds from both stream to this latter shared space so that viewers can alternately look at themselves or surreptitiously watch other visitors in the gallery.
In the present era of the NSA, Edward Snowden, Google Glass, the Cloud, Facebook, drones and the Patriot Act, the division between public and private is an increasingly contested space. More and more in this surveillance state, the contents of our lives are being accessed, scrutinized and recorded both with and without our permission, making how we present ourselves, how we view others, how others see us and how we perceive our place in our surroundings some of today’s most salient concerns. In Self-Portrait, Leshem-Gradus has created a space in which the mechanics of surveillance are laid bare, prompting us to confront our roles as performers, voyeurs and victims and to address the feelings of lust, shame, titillation and fear that accompany watching someone or being watched by someone else on camera. Turning the video camera, TV and phone, or the tools of our mediated reality, back on themselves, Leshem-Gradus transforms Wayfarers’ project space—a room of hazy boundaries and shifting purposes, a room that we might otherwise fail to notice—into a hyperaware environment where we are cognizant of existing in that exact time and place and in the presence of other people who may or may not be watching us as we watch them.
Discussing her interests in phenomenology and the politics of space, the artist says, “Since the meaning of space derives for each of us from our individual experiences, it would seem that our experiences are utterly private. Yet space is also experienced collectively. I focus on the visual, as well as sound, smell, temperature and memory. As Maurice Merleau-Ponty explained in Phenomenology of Perception, ‘synaesthetic perception is the rule, and we are unaware of it only because scientific knowledge shifts the center of gravity of experience, so that we have unlearned how to see, hear, and generally speaking feel....’ I also consider how our use of language and our design of space reinforce dominant ideologies relating to ideas of good and bad, and success and happiness, and how the same factors that reinforce dominant societal norms may also lend themselves to the alienation of the individual from society and its norms.”
Noa Leshem-Gradus lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Born in New York and raised in Tel-Aviv, Leshem-Gradus has earned degrees from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York and the Universität der Künste in Berlin. Her work has been exhibited in New York, Miami, Berlin and Tel-Aviv, and in shows at the Brooklyn Museum, PooL Art Fair, Verge Art Fair, Family Business Gallery and more. She is currently enrolled in SVA’s MA program Critical Theory and the Arts.