Exhibition essay courtesy James McAnally.
The blue, bordering violet, does not match the color of the morning but the suffrage of the evening. A blue of waiting, of change; color standing in for a series of petitions. It is stitched from history, an open-work with threads stretched apart. We enter the past through needlepoints, puncturing the present as we meet a common ancestor: a feminine question, open ended, that asks whether we or our labor are ever held in common. Where we wonder whatever even makes a community communal. We use the materials available, we open them in order to see through. (“When you cut into the present the future leaks out,” said one neighbor). It is intricate work, history. Shifts bend in the breeze, we sweep the threads up, though after enough wind even bricks bend and scatter.
This is simply the terrain we are in. Where we are always also a they and they rise and fall, together.
Common Shift is a public installation commissioned for the Terrain Biennial in Enos Park. The work engages a complex history of domestic labor, suffrage protests, architectural erasure, and the undulating developments of the Enos Park neighborhood over the past century. Common Shift brings together historical needlepoint techniques – particularly those, like open-work, which were most common in times of economic hardship – along with architectural patterning from the surrounding neighborhood, as well as color and material references drawn from suffragette protest banners for a site-sensitive installation comprised of canvas, collagraphs, hand-stitching, brooms and banners.
Common Shift was curated by James McAnally, the co-founder, co-director and curator of The Luminary, a nonprofit forum for artistic research and experimentation based in St. Louis, MO. McAnally is also the co-founder and editor of Temporary Art Review, an international platform for contemporary art criticism that focuses on artist-run and alternative spaces. In his artistic practice, he works as a part of the collaborative US English.