Analia Segal’s Seductively Tactile Objects

Bart Keijsers Koning
Apr 11, 2016 8:54PM

Born in Argentina, Analia Segal moved to the United States in 1999. Since then, the strange and uncomfortable undercurrents of domesticity have been perennial themes in her work.  

Living here, and finding herself “dreaming in English,” became a catalyst in Segal's work, prompting her to “explore the meaning of home and the exchange that takes place while experiencing all of the intricacies and complexities” of citizenship.  

Segal's seductively tactile objects, video work, and what art critic Susan Tower (aka Susana Torre) calls “surface alterations”—where Segal disrupts the familiar surfaces of ceramic bathroom tile, wallpaper, or carpet with suggestive bulges and blobs—prefigure, according to Tower, “a world of uncanny presences” informed by her dual footholds in functional design and fine art practice. Segal's carpet collection, frequently exhibited with her signature drips and lumps, brings an element of play into this uncanny world. The brightly-colored, hand-tufted wool carpets combine the appearance of geometric precision with a lack of true symmetry, placing the objects in a precarious position at the threshold of sculpture, architecture, and functional design.  

Segal’s design carpets undermine the label “home goods,” with its allusion to tradition and comfortable domesticity, through uneasy association. For example, the iconic, Argentinian cowhide rugs that so closely recall that country’s history of cattle ranching inspire Segal’s Aleph, an edition of which is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires

Even in evoking a straightforward symbol of national culture in a playful composition of bold yellow and orange, however, Segal inserts a reference to the coexistence of the strange familiar within one’s conception of home. The title is taken from The Aleph, a short tale of mystery, madness and malice by another cultural icon of Argentina, the writer Jorge Luis Borges. Aleph refers to an object that allows anyone who gazes into it to see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping or confusion. It was the titular story in a collection that Segal associates with emigration because the volume accompanied her on her 1999 move to New York. 

Similarly, in a piece from this series that Segal calls Bichos or “Critters,” close-cropped wool contrasts with a shaggier fiber and two slightly off shades of compatible colors orange and red are placed side by side. The title evokes the angular, jointed metal objects of the same name made by famed Brazilian artist Lygia Clark in the early 1960's. Clark's pieces are made to be handled, and in this way transgress the idea that one’s relationship to sculpture is limited to the visual. Segal's carpets are not simply meant serve a function or be looked at, but to inhabit the room in a way that is whimsical, yet also slightly unnerving.

Analía Segal received a B.A. in Graphic Design from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, and a M.A. in Art from New York University. Segal's upcoming projects include a book that will be launched in 2017, which includes a selection of works developed over the course of the past 17 years, with text, from critics and curators both in the US and Argentina, addressing different aspects of the work. She will also be participating in a year-long exhibit on the work of women artists at MACBA in Buenos Aires (Museum of Contemporary Art).

Analia’s carpets were produced by Alex Kalpakian of Design Carpets and exclusively available at LMAKgallery and LMAKbooks+design in New York.

—Patricia Manos, 2016

Bart Keijsers Koning