Allegra LaViola is pleased to present The Invisible Line, a solo exhibition of new work by Ellen Jong, curated by Mr. and Mrs. Amani Olu. The Invisible Line uses photography, video and poetry to document how Jong remembers falling in love over a four-year period leading up to her wedding day. The work is intimate and echoes the bold and provocative sentiment of Nan Goldin and Tracey Emin, but with the snapshot aesthetic of William Eggelston. Highly adept at interjecting private moments into a public space, Jong’s work provides a window into realized and uninhibited displays of passion. Where most people fail at being able to completely let go, Jong travels deep into the nether lands of love where her heart acts as a compass.
The photographs on view mimic pieces to a larger puzzle, offering micro-details of when and how Jong’s general existence and personal transition began to crystallize. Between the creation of each image and its pixel and grain, is a gesture of emotion that captures a dissolve and discovery of self, simultaneously. The images are uninhibited and demonstrate a form of passion seldom experienced in contemporary art, but universal to all.
Interspersed amongst the photographs are poems that reveal an even deeper obsession with falling in love. These poems compliment the snapshots, functioning as landscapes that allow greater access to Jong’s narrative. At 6×9 inches, these intimate writings demand attention and engage directly and personally, almost as if to call the viewer by name.
The Invisible Line comes full circle with a video of Jong and her husband at the beach. Titled Naked Beach Day, the video captures how the couple interacts in real time. They laugh, kiss, play and share some awkward moments before progressing into a space normally reserved for the proverbial “behind closed doors.”
“There is an invisible line,” say Jong, “that lies between my body and my mind. It withholds my deepest beliefs, fears, curiosities and desires. It is there to protect me. It is there to tell others where I stand, what is mine and why I am. In falling in love, I lost sight of my invisible line and I let it go. Love breaks down walls and sets you free.”
During the opening, Jong will invite guest to contribute words written on paper, which she will release from balloons on June 19, two weeks after the opening. The Happening will offer participants a chance to let go of something inside them and perhaps explore a journey in self-discovery with the artist. By putting their thoughts into the universe, the participants can experience the practice of letting go, very much like Jong when she started this project.
Ellen Jong (b. 1976) is a native New Yorker, born in Queens, and now lives in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Her photography career started to take shape when she was first published in zing Magazine in 1999. She received wider commercial recognition when selected to be a Surface magazine Avantguardian in 2002. As a fine art photographer she began exhibiting in 2000, with a show held in conjunction with Vice Magazine, which works formed the core of her first photography monograph, Pees On Earth, published by Miss Rosen Editions/powerHouse Books in 2006. The Pee Series is Jong’s introspective investigation of identity, sexuality, social/political/gender issues and coming-of-age. Recent works touch on these issues in photography and mixed media.
Amani Olu (b. 1980) is an independent curator, writer, essayist and co-founder and executive director of Humble Arts Foundation, a New York based 501c3 committed to supporting and promoting new art photography. In addition to his work as a non-profit arts director, he also organizes the annual Young Curators, New Ideas exhibition. He lives and works in New York and is a proud member of New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA).