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Svetlana Bailey | Out of Body

January 18 - February 24, 2024

NEW YORK, December 30, 2023—Atamian Hovsepian Curatorial Practice is pleased to announce Svetlana Bailey’s Out of Body. Bailey’s remarkable ice sculptures are made from molds of her own body: as they slowly melt, the sculptures take the the shape of strangely morphing cyborgs, then to something that appears part-human and part futuristic being. In the current exhibition, the sculptures are accompanied by thirteen beautifully ethereal mixed media works on paper in light pastels, whose palette reaches all the way back to the subtle work of Odilon Redon and other 19th century Symbolist artists.


In her practice, Bailey searches out new ways of understanding bodily experience and its implications for relations between humans and nature. Her work examines the eerie intimacy between the human body, human experience and human surroundings. She is thus able to engage with ecology and speculate on the almost sci-fi weirdness of the future. 


The sense of being and existing in a body has occupied Bailey since early childhood: “I remember trying to feel the difference between myself and my body and wondering why my conscious memories are all located within this body that I have always inhabited. My research is motivated by the relationship I have to my body and the feedback between ecology and experience of the body. I explore the body as the mechanism through which one engages, encounters and is re-formed by the hyper-objects of habitat.” Bailey’s work combines alternative photographic techniques with sculpture making. She produces molds to substitute forms made of transitional materials like water and ice in order to create arrangements that she photographically preserves. These materials allow one to contemplate the body, the land that it inhabits and the makeup of a post-human future. 


In “Who wants to live forever,” Bailey recreates herself out of ice. She freezes water in a mold and as the frozen sculpture emerges into a warm environment it begins changing shape like an aging human body. The body double is released from silicone with details perfectly imprinted, but as the water drips and rounds its features the pores, fine lines and fingerprints that define her as unique, degenerate. Each is gradually erased as the bust changes shape, explores variations on its form, leaves a wet trace and, like the death of an organism finally vanishes. Bailey notes: “As I watch myself melt all over again questions of post-humanism enter my thinking: what is after the end, are our bodies what prevent us from experiencing solidarity with other species, and what would a disembodied existence allow for? Is there a new evolutionary period ahead where our materiality enters a dream state and reconstitutes in a bodily vehicle for a future atmosphere?” How such transitions might occur is presently unknown, but prospects of a post-human form may prompt us to consider ecology not as being external to us but an extension of ourselves


Svetlana Bailey has exhibited throughout the US and internationally, including in New York City at Elizabeth Houston Gallery, Crossing Art, Clamp Art, and Pen and Brush, along with Blue Sky in Portland, Filter Space in Chicago, Artereal in Sydney where she is represented and the Zhu Qizhan Art Museum in Shanghai. Svetlana has been in residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the ISCP in New York, Marble House Vermont, Mountain School Los Angeles, Vermont Studio Center, PS 122 New York, Atlantic Center for the Arts, NARS New York, Bundanon Trust in Australia, the 501 Artspace in Chongqing China and the Three Shadows Photography Arts Center in Beijing.


Bailey’s work is held in the Australian Government’s Artbank collection and the Library of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and for two years running was awarded the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward prize. She is the recipient of national and international grants by the Australia Council for the Arts, Copyright Agency Sydney, Joseph Robert Foundation Pennsylvania, and the American-Australian Association in New York. She was profiled in Vault Magazine and PDN Magazine. Svetlana received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and lives with her family in New York City.

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