Critics’ Picks

Jean Blackburn, Warp, 2017, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Jean Blackburn, Warp, 2017, mixed media, dimensions variable.


Jean Blackburn

Rafius Fane Gallery
460C Harrison Ave Suite #C24
March 3–April 24, 2017

The titular installation at the center of Jean Blackburn’s current exhibition, “Warp,” comprises connected domestic scenes evoking something like a bedroom, laundry room, and kitchen. Where another artist might have separated the elements into autonomous, salable sculptures, this work appears intended just for this sort of encounter with an audience, rather than for Instagram-then-freeport afterlives—as if to match the disappearance of the unremunerated gendered labors native to its subject matter. The title’s homonyms, for weaving and distortion, limn the psychic space that overgrows a household over time.

The installation seems to read within the gallery from left to right, beginning with a bed and a dresser that are partly deconstructed and shot through with textiles that connect them to a space beside the windows, housing pennants like on a clothesline. It is here that the connective grammar of the space begins to warp, as the work becomes a chain of altered, interlocking spoons that drip down from the ceiling through a table full of holes whose positives sit on its surface as dishware. Beside this tableau, the dresser’s drawers have been shoved into a pile of sawdust that appears to have been generated by subtractions from the furniture; a doorframe sits alone in space as if in architectonic fade-out. Upon entering this melancholy celebration of the things that come along with us and then depart into uncertain futures, I thought: What if all furniture lived on like this, changed as the living do, as if to counteract the longing that a bygone space can summon in us, which Gaston Bachelard articulated as remorse at “not having lived profoundly enough” in it?