Sara Shaoul: Strange Labor
September 17 - October 31, 2015
Booklyn is pleased to present a soloexhibition of artist Sara Shaoul’s multidisciplinary work that exploresthe connection between the female body and socioeconomic forces.
Regarding her new works in the exhibition, which include images, text and sculpture, Shaoul writes the following:
“Strange Labor is an exploration of how bodies move in and out of commodity states within the scaffold of global capitalism in general, and American culture in particular. The starting point of the work was a discovery of the visual and ideological convergence of the female reproductive cycle with certain stock market cycles, in particular the pattern of a market “bubble,” in which the market value of an asset deviates considerably from its “intrinsic value,” ultimately resulting in a crash. In addition to studying general reproductive patterns, I charted my own cycle by measuring my basal body temperature, a practice that visually tracks the stages of a monthly cycle, as well as the potential existence or loss of a pregnancy. It seemed both revelatory and sinister that financial charting and analyses should mirror so closely the emotional language and details of reproduction.
Through an examination of the personal, economic, and cultural forces that influence reproductive decisions, particularly the complex ways in which the value of the female body is linked to its capacity or incapacity to create new consumers, I also consider how many bodies shift in and out of value states, by what means a body is assigned a monetary, social, or ideological value, and how assigned value intersects with other forms of stratification as well as changing socioeconomic forces. The basic patterns of capitalism are forced upon, embedded in, and expressed by bodies. The shape of profit and the pattern of loss are ingrained in our consciousness as a measure of both institutional and personal successes or failures. The title is a nod to Marx’s essay about the alienation of the worker, Estranged Labor.”
Also included in the exhibition is the work, “Erin Mahoney (Friend, Organizer, Activist)”, a 15 minute video from 2014 in which the artist’s friend, a union organizer, describes her experience of Occupy Wall Street while brushing out Shaoul’s tangled hair. The piece explores how ideology is expressed through intimate connection. As with much of Shaoul’s work, the video occupies the space between personal experience, research, “information,” lyrical moment, and perception, returning what can be distant politics into the space of personal and communal re/cognition.
Sara Shaoul is a Brooklynbased conceptual artist. Her work examines the structures and scaffolds of human interaction, from bureaucracy to the family, exploring how personal narratives intersect with social history. She has a BA in Art History from Cornell University, an MA in Cultural Anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center, and an MFA from Hunter College. Her work has been exhibited at the Center for Book Arts, the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, White Box Gallery, Present Company, the Scope Art Fair in New York and the Aqua Art Fair in Miami, among other venues. In 2014 she was awarded the Artslant Georgia Fee Residency in Paris France, and was chosen as an AICAD ArtistinResidence in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Her work has been profiled in the New York Times and Huffington Post.
The exhibition is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and additionally in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
Strange Labor is the second in a series of exhibitions considering artists whose work addresses socio political concerns in a manner that is decidedly personal.