We’ve all received postcards from those traveling to far off places, extoling the virtues of the exotic with sentiments like, “The light is so beautiful this far North,” or the simple, more prosaic, “Having fun!” but most of the time the ending phrase, heartfelt as it sometimes is, is usually, “Wish you were here.” The phrase not only suggests a kind of momentary wistfulness, but - and perhaps more importantly -denotes a state of being aligned more with the experience of forging one’s life rather than simply existing.
Wish You Were Here features contributions by Amoako Boafo, Noah Davis, Lenz Geerk, Wangari Mathenge, Betye Saar, Henry Taylor and Brenna Youngblood, among others. The exhibition brings together a selection of artworks focusing on deconstructing moments of self-reflection by asking pertinent questions about what it means to be alive so as to better comprehend the responsibilities we have to ourselves and to each other.
There is also the sense that a phrase such as this might bring someone back from time or death, or at least conjure up the memory of their importance back to life. While this could easily be described as nostalgia, the wish-act is more actively transformative than static.
Inspired to an unfamiliar degree, Wish You Were Here creates a longing within, a near perfect simultaneous interruption and retreat. The artists in this exhibition strive to connect to an intimate relationship between the object and the viewer, which takes its form as the visual exchange.
The works on view - ruminations, really – are variations of this theme. There is also a nod to the more traditional genre of portraiture, the kind of art that forefronts experience yet has elements of expansion and memory within. The artists’ presentation of scale – small, intimate, almost diminutive – peers into and challenges the identity and history of its subjects. They allude to private moments, borrowed time, an awareness of actions and habits in relation to others.