Jennifer Nocon creats a visceral labyrinth of handmade, delicate felt sculptures. The pieces take as inspiration Wolfgang von Goethe’s 1809 novel Elective Affinities, an early 19th century term used to describe compounds that only form relationships with each other under select circumstances. Goethe uses this concept as a metaphor to examine the conflict between responsibility and passion in dealing with chaotic human relations.
Nocon’s work takes as a visual point of departure the early nature films of Jean Painlevé sharing his credo “science is fiction”. Her intricate floor sculptures of tangled desert mistletoe stem from her observations on naturally occurring patterns in desert plants and how we mimic these patterns in human behavior. The hand dyed and cut fabrics often intertwine, as in Failure to Launch, where Nocon has carefully woven long threads of the thorny mistletoe into cream-colored bundles. The use of soft wool felt to replicate the parasitic plant creates an interesting dichotomy where tenderness is juxtaposed with cruelty. Here we envision the symbiotic relationships of attraction and the parasitic characteristics of resistance. Nocon is also influenced by the work of 19th century German biologist and artist, Ernst Haeckel. His multi-colored illustrations of animals and sea creatures take form in Untitled Shelf #1 where Nocon exhibits a series of small detailed sculptures on three wall-mounted shelves. The colorful objects appear as archaeological finds; fossils formed like desert roses from a make-believe world. The selections of drawings on view are watercolors further depicting the patterns that have emerged from the visual dialogue she engages in with the natural world.