CURRICULUM: Spaces of Learning and Unlearning, Review

This review was originally published on Artforum.com

Self-care is not what it used to be. Before it was a neoliberal mantra, it was a demand—for the recuperative space and time necessary for the reclamation of those subjectivities that have historically been erased. Mining affects such as color, atmosphere, and ritual, the works in “CURRICULUM: spaces of learning and unlearning” offer alternative networks of care and collectivity in response to, and in place of, institutions.

Christen Clifford’s sculpture WE ARE ALL PINK INSIDE: Interiors, 2018, resembles a halved tent. Its soft-pink video projections of corporeal interiors and smooth surfaces offer fleeting respite. Those who crawl inside might feel momentarily secure, but they remain exposed—to the rest of the gallery, yes, but also to themselves, as their reflections are distorted in the work’s Plexiglas sheets. Sarah Zapata’s shaggy, handwoven monument, To Teach or Assume Authority, 2018–19, looks like an edifice overtaken by Technicolor moss. It invokes ancient Peruvian ceremonial architecture and engages with ideas surrounding collective making, feminized labor, and precolonial spirituality.

Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo’s Altar Objects, 2017, an arrangement of items including candles, dice, and a stack of manifestos, is a shrine to the joy and salubriousness of the color yellow, which, for the artist, also conjures a brightness capable of blotting out the murkier aspects of structural violence. In her photograph Storyteller 2, 2017—which hangs above the sulfur-hued sanctum like a religious icon—a person cradles an image of figures draped in gold, embracing one another. These layers of enfolded bodies, linked by touch and lemony hues, represent a psychic and iconographic system of support and comfort. With Hormonal Fog, 2016–18, a sculpture that diffuses testosterone-suppressing botanicals in a heady cloud, Candice Lin and Patrick Staff seek to alter our bodies at the molecular level. For the artists in this exhibition, learning must necessarily be transgressive, haptic, porous, and intimate.