Step of Two
Emily Mast & Henna Vainio
April 22 – June 4, 2017
Opening Reception: April 22, 7–10pm
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 22, 7 – 10pm
Special Event: Animal Empathy Experiments, Outdoor Movement Workshop with Emily Mast, Sunday, June 4, 2 – 3:30 PM
Step of Two is a duet that is in and out of sync between artists Emily Mast and Henna Vainio. The two artists, who work in very different mediums, video and sculpture respectively, find idiosyncratic overlaps in their choice of materials and content. Both bodies of work are informed by taxonomies and color, and combine abstraction or live use of the body with everyday found materials such as: cardboard, fruit peels, lemons, baguettes, straight pins, gloves, and lip gloss.
Emily Mast’s project, ENDE (Like A New Beginning) deconstructs meaning and memory with a kind of personalized form of eurythmy. She uses momentary written or spoken phrases collected throughout her daily life as the directive for movements. Once a movement is attached to a phrase, it is given a name, performed and put into a score. The movement changes and mutates based off of the circumstances, akin to a memory, relying on what other memories precede and follow it. As the artist states, ENDE (Like A New Beginning) explores “the underlying complexities of language, translation, memory and miscommunication, it confronts the profoundness of the seemingly mundane and uses repetition and familiarity to incite instants of human connection.”
Henna Vainio’s plaster casts and glass-fused panes operate like punctuation––physical manifestations of the hard stops, breaths, pauses, and exclamations, the periods, commas, em dashes and other marks afford the written word. For Vainio, “the act of sculptural casting becomes theatrical casting and makes these things––objects––have an agency of their own.” Divorced from words punctuation loses meaning, and becomes abstracted and empowered. Similarly, Vainio’s work, primarily casts of other objects, deals in negative space and defines the things it is surrounded by––namely the texture of the objects she casts. The elements of each sculpture connect forms, dictated by materials with sources that remain as referent, akin to spaces and punctuation marks between words.
Both artists in Step of Two expand our understanding of language, color, material objects, and the body, as experiences that are meant to evolve, transmute, cohere, fade away, and rebuild. When their works are set together as a duet––Mast’s video work, which so prominently features bodies interacting with objects, and Vainio’s sculptures with imprints of everyday objects, sag and contort as bodies do––the gallery operates as a stage with all the artworks acting as props and actors concurrently.
Emily Mast primarily makes performances and videos that incorporate bodies, movement, sound and light as live sculptural material. Her work consists of collaborative practices that celebrate their ambiguous position between art, theater, performance and poetry. She recently completed a five-part project called The Cage is a Stage that was co-commissioned by the Power Plant in Toronto and the University of Toronto’s Blackwood Gallery. It was comprised of an evening-length theatrical performance, a billboard, a gallery installation, a five channel video installation and a publication. Previously, she presented a “choreographed exhibition” at La Ferme du Buisson in France. She has also presented roving performances in Paris at Silencio and the Mona Bismarck American Center. In 2014 she staged a procession of performances at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and was part of the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. biennial. She has shown her work at Performa, Simone Subal Gallery and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space in New York, the Galeria Luisa Strina in Sao Paolo, MUHKA in Antwerp, Samson Projects in Boston, and REDCAT, LAX Art, Public Fiction, Human Resources, China Art Objects Gallery and Night Gallery in Los Angeles. Emily graduated from USC in 2009 and has been an artist-in-residence at the Headlands, Yaddo and Skowhegan. She lives in Los Angeles.
Henna Vainio uses sculptural casting as a method to reproduce everyday objects often resulting in the creation of seemingly natural looking, yet unrecognizable forms. Her methods also invoke the sense of casting in the theatrical sense of the word, as through the act of reproduction the objects are assigned new roles or cast into performative functions. She recently relocated to San Francisco from London, UK and was born in Jyväskylä, Finland. She is a graduate of Chelsea College of Arts, London and The Slade School of Art, London. Recent exhibitions include Legs, Plaza Plaza, London, (2016); Matkalla Maan Keskipisteeseen, Saarijärven Museo, Saarijärvi, Finland (2015); Back to The Things Themselves, Assembly Point, London (2015); Corporeality, Objects and Other Stuff, FOLD, London, (2015) and Stanzas, OUTPOST, Norwich, UK (2014).