LMAKprojects is pleased to present Sunshine and Shadow, Sabrina Gschwandtner’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and her first in New York. The exhibition features five quilts constructed from 16 mm film. The works are displayed in framed light boxes, engaging the notion of filmic suture through a reconfigured, backlit form. The show is based on Sunshine and Shadow quilts, which take their name from a concentric diamond pattern created by squares of color in dramatically intertwined light and dark hues. The Sunshine and Shadow pattern has historically been interpreted as an attempt to unify extremes.
Since 2009, Gschwandtner has been working from a collection of 16 mm films that were de-accessioned from the Fashion Institute of Technology and given to her by Anthology Film Archives. These short films, dated 1950 to 1980, are educational documentaries about textiles as art, craft, fashion, decoration, vocation, military camouflage, feminist expression, and scientific metaphor. After watching the movies, the artist cuts and sews them into configurations based on popular American quilt motifs.
For her Sunshine and Shadow quilts, the artist dismantles the narratives of the historical films and re-interprets their thematic concerns. In each work she intermingles footage to create a dialogue between the images inside the frames and the patterns that emerge from the overall quilt designs. The artist freely alters the footage by scratching it, painting over it, or bleaching it in the sun, and also uses countdown leader, credits, and her own films. Images of hands at work – spinning yarn, dyeing cloth, feeding fabric into machines – are repeated throughout the show, referencing not only the artist’s labor and similarly tactile experimental filmmaking methods, but also the historical connections between pioneering cinema and sewing. (The sprocket mechanism of an early movie camera/projector was modeled after the newly popular sewing machine, and Hollywood’s first film editors were women who were hired for their agile sewing fingers).
In keeping with her larger body of work, which connects textiles to photographic media, Sunshine and Shadow rethinks materiality and notions of production. Gschwandtner’s work belongs to a movement that questions the division between handmaking and conceptual art, dubbed craft critique by art historian Julia Bryan-Wilson.
Gschwandtner lives and works in New York, and has exhibited her work extensively in the United States and abroad. Two of her film quilts are currently on view in 40 Under 40: Craft Futures at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
The artist would like to extend special thanks to Bernie Herman, Andrew Lampert, Judith Solodkin, and Wave Hill.