The next show at EBK Gallery is curated by the guest curator Sharon Butler, who perceptively describes the new series of Laurie Sloan's prints. The curator's statement adds a mystifying overtone to these works, and suggests a myriad of narratives. As a result, Sloan's semi-abstract prints, which will be exhibited, cease to be understood as simply experimental or merely visual. The complexity of these forms and the way that their elements intertwine goes beyond the prints themselves, and works with the context of our contemporary society. Since our age is the "age of anxiety", as the President of Venice Biennale, Paolo Baratta, pointed out last year, it isn't so hard to relate these images to our current man-made anxieties (which is a phrase intentionally used by Ms. Butler).
Laurie Sloan's prints are defined by the curator as diabolic and poetic, and here the two seem to be just the right choice of words - since in the next step of comparison, Sharon Butler mentions something very specific: The X-Files. From today's perspective, the popular TV series from the '90s seems like it has somehow predicted the future, in terms of bizarre conspiracies and the misuse of technology. The issues which are, in real life, associated with horrible fear-generating tragedies, such as terrorist attacks, threats and violence, are figuratively redistributed in the series, and rendered through the prism of science-fiction and mysteries related to aliens.
Regardless of the curator's thought-provoking input, Sloan regards her process as an act of re-contextualizing and repurposing shapes. She uses both the traditional and digital techniques, and combines computer programs with intaglio, relief and screen-printing. As a result, her works display visual hybrids, which often include elements from her previous works. This oddly poetical ignorance toward meaning and sanctity of shapes and things is perhaps what reminds the curator of the brutal synopsis of The X-Files. That, and the visual intricacy and obscurity of these works, which really are reminiscent of the X-Files aesthetics. In her own words, a bit rephrased, Sloan compares her work to that of an inexperienced, curious scientist who experiments with anything that comes before him/her. All the fragments that appear in her works are prone to end up in the most unexpected places. In the end, her creations are regarded as "monsters", and are only finished once "they have the odd quality of agency but also feel like victims".
This makes the supposed creatures (who really don't need to be creatures at all, if we choose to dismiss this narrative) seem both scary and vulnerable. If we do, however, take all the stories and associations into account, they are also suggestive of all the world's horrors, the ones from real life and the ones we used to see on TV. In the last paragraph of her review, however, the curator addresses the elegance and the elusive beauty of these prints, obviously reflecting on the visual component once again, and denoting how, sometimes, the beast can be the beauty as well.
Laurie Sloan's recent prints will be on view from April 1st through 30th, 2016, at EBK Gallery in Hartford, Connecticut.
Featured images in slider: Laurie Sloan - Untitled (2016); Laurie Sloan - Gargoyles (2016). All images courtesy of the artist and the gallery.
Hartford, United States of America