Critics’ Picks

View of “Dust Patterns,” 2017–2018.

View of “Dust Patterns,” 2017–2018.


Ser Serpas

Quinn Harrelson / Current Projects
170 NE 79th St
December 15, 2017–March 3, 2018

In her first solo exhibition, Los Angeles– and New York–based artist Ser Serpas presents eleven works, many of which are amalgams of disparate objects. For instance, a glass tabletop, a vacuum cleaner, and a bookcase make up Load Bearing Allotment (all works cited, 2017), whereas In the Slightest comprises a carved door, a child’s tiny microphone stand, and a broom handle, among other items. To be clear, though, these works are not just formal experiments reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg’s seminal combines.

Rather, the pieces speak to the precarity of categorization; they work against the essentialization of those who identify as trans by both the medical establishment and the trans community itself. For In the End Times, Serpas has arranged ninety small ink-on-paper drawings on the wall. Each one was drawn in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, at a time when the artist was undergoing gender affirmation surgery. The drawings are notable for their blurring of body and object, which is partly a result of the variable time constraints and a drawing style that is loose and improvisational.

Finally, in the show’s only explicit self-portrait, penultimate warrior (self-portrait), Serpas presents an armchair that she lit on fire after dousing it with estradiol (which is commonly used in hormone-replacement therapy). The act makes the identification of the object as an armchair moot since it no longer can serve that function. By extension, Serpas’s work implicitly recasts estradiol as something that does not reify the fixity of gender but rather disrupts its coherence and singularity.