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Carol Peligian | Shift and Lift

May 2 - June 22, 2024 

Opening Reception May 7, 7-9 p.m.


“Art is the highest form of hope” - Gerhard Richter

New York, 2024 – Atamian Hovsepian Curatorial Practice is pleased to announce the opening of Carol Peligian: Shift and Lift, curated by Tamar Hovsepian.

Peligian produces breathtaking work and belongs to a côterie of powerful women who continue to influence the contemporary art historical conversation, including Joan Jonas, Agnes Martin, Zilia Sanchez, Phyllida Barlow, and Louise Bourgeois.


Born in Providence, Rhode Island, the artist received a scholarship to RISD Saturday School at nine years old and never looked back. In 1983 Peligian lost a large body of work to a flood which destroyed thousands of her pieces. Starting from scratch, she reopened her studio in Manhattan and then Long Island City, ultimately expanding and shifting her practice to include sculpture, installation, and video.


When internalizing trauma, the human mind often disassociates or shifts, helping it to detach from the experience. A disconnect occurs between the mind and body. Exploring this dialectical experience, Peligian’s 2006 Susurrus marked her shift to sculpture. The work commemorates the five genocides of the 20th century by lifting an undulating curtain to the sky. The artist is the granddaughter of Armenian genocide survivors.


Peligian’s sculptures often directly reference her own body, as she rolls herself in material and places an indestructible elemental object inside the form, before sealing the sculptures with fiberglass. In He by She, the artist intertwines mind and body, feminine and masculine energies, and shifts the viewer's focus between outward and inward. Seven feet long in size, its two black wave-like shapes embrace at their summit and lean on each other, reflecting their image downward towards the Earth. Sharing the space with He by She are four paintings in oil and urethane on aluminum, with large, unrestricted brushstrokes running through the center. The shimmering shades of violet and white force us to face our ephemeral selves reflected in the piece.


In another room two videos – Too Hot to Handle and Mourners – alternate with each other on the screen. Both operate at the juncture of climate change and feminist theory, resulting in heightened awareness and a call to action as it breaks down stereotypes of scholarship and femininity. The artist’s daughter, glaciologist Dr. Alexandra Boghosian, appears in both videos. The two have shared ideas, data, and practices with each other over the last decade.  


Descending the gallery stairs, we encounter an army of 150 transparent pink dolls proudly standing on a glass ceiling, literally and figuratively raised together (What A Little Doll, 2024). Based on the late 14th-century Pleurants or Mourners of Dijon, they also take their cue from images in our consumer society, functioning as objects of desire. They induce in the viewer a longing to caress them, to shift and lift them. Yet the dolls are untouchable, sitting high above our heads as we steady our gaze ever upwards and shift our focus from their physical beauty to their unknowable thoughts, juxtaposing individual desire and collective power. Like the original mourners themselves, Peligian’s work evokes a sense of deep, almost limitless mystery: “Ars longa, vita brevis.”

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