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Jennifer Paige Cohen

Nicelle Beauchene Gallery
327 Broome Street
October 10, 2014–November 10, 2014

Jennifer Paige Cohen, Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures), 2013, sweater, plaster, stucco, 17 1/2 x 22 x 12".

Jennifer Paige Cohen figures moments of corporeal hinge: the slouch of a shoulder, the crook of crossed knees. Consider Obverse (Fleece), 2014, which takes shape from troweled plaster and pilled fleece. One side disposes consecutive curves: the first, the slope of shoulder into forearm; the second, a rounded edge to an oblique triangle, seemingly organic, like an impossibly slender knee. The other side features the titular garment variously exposed and laminated by plaster, which stipples its surface in a mime of an afternoon shadow.

Like Obverse (Fleece), each of the twelve midsize sculptures on view pairs a body fragment with an article of clothing, sourced secondhand and eclectically patterned: think Bill Cosby’s sweater collection circa 1970. Cast in plaster and pale-gray stucco, the joints and limbs that populate these works settle into neither gender. The iteration of elbows seems a choice as much structural—a means of transition from vertical to horizontal—as symbolic.

Cohen seems drawn to the cast as a technique that negotiates solids and surfaces, articulating the body while dispensing with mass and enclosure. It is a tension that her fabrics enact in reverse, using flutes and furrows as a way to swell planes into space. Banked and folded, the contours of her work cleave to the logic of the MŲbius strip, their serial inversions and extrusions confusing distinctions between interiors and exteriors. Everywhere, residues of the figurative conjure a lapsed experience of bodily proximity. In Cohen’s hand, allusion emerges as something continuous and unconsummated: the semiotic analogue of the sinuous forms that her sculptures trace.

Courtney Fiske