Communion from Above

“Censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time. Write yourself. Your body must be heard.” – Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa”

Aiora, currently on view at I-20, highlights the artist’s focus on the erotic, not as a source of titillation, but as an exploration of the transcendence of the individual self.  Incorporating sculpture and so-called “domestic” design elements, the pieces in this exhibition mark a departure from the artist’s earlier work, while still continuing the conceptual roots of Seror’s previous text/image unions. If Seror’s art can be understood in part as a unique exploration of the characteristics of the masculine/feminine, this body of work becomes the subversive search

for the corporeal within those models. Informed by some definitions of the amorous including George Bataille’s Eroticism and Tears of Eros, Aiora probes the nature of eroticism, reflecting the desire to lose oneself and examining the role of the individual in this process.

Central to this body of work is a series of patterned wallpapers featuring submissive postures and garments, recalling Georges Bataille’s definition of eroticism as a search for lost continuity. Seror replaces the discontinuous individual with a series of continuous, connected beings, joining these forms together to create designs abstracted to near unrecognizability.  These designs provoke the audience to engage intimately with them. Seror also uses these designs to create upholstery for antique Victorian chairs, underscoring the tenuous relationship between comfort and discomfort.

Seror’s stereolithographic sculptures, including A Torture Garden, also engage viewers in this dialogue. Highly abstracted, again, from simple drawings, these twisted, torqued extrusions employ a multiplicity of forms that obscures the content of the original images. The resultant objects reflect the provoking nature of the design elements included in the exhibit, while displaying an unpretentious beauty of form independent of the more provocative content of the works in the show.

Reminiscent of the artist’s earlier lightboxes, two lenticular prints, entitled Fando and Lis, highlight the corporeal nature of Seror’s work.  Based on antique anatomical illustrations passed down from Seror’s maternal grandfather, the works function not only as fin-de-siècle viewpoints of the intricate functions of the inner body (in contrast to the more amatory works in the exhibition), but also as illustrations of both the destructive and erotic nature of the gaze.  The viewer’s movement animates the multiple overlays of the two figures’ bodies, while also manipulating the interplay between narcissistic identification and erotic voyeurism inherent in these works.

Kiki Seror was the subject of a survey exhibition at SITE Santa Fe in 2005, curated by Louis Grachos. Other solo shows include Apex Art, New York; the Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna; Nils Staerk Contemporary, Cophenhagen; and Leyendecker Gallery, Canary Islands, Spain.  Her group shows include Don Juan, Vienna Kunsthalle (2006);

Jeugen von heute, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (2006); Art Video Lounge, curated by Christopher Eamon, Art Basel Miami Beach (2005); Balance and Power: Performance and Surveillance in Video Art, curated by Michael Rush, Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois and the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University (2005); Girls, Girls, Girls, CAN Centre d’Art, Neuchaâtel, Switzerland; In Focus: Themes in Photography, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2005); typ0, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2004); Strangers: First ICP Triennial of Photography and Video (2003); and Fusion Cuisine, curated by Katerina Gregos, Deste Foundation for the Arts, Athens (2002).

Seror was born in Chicago in 1970. She received her BFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, her MFA at the Columbia University School of the Arts, and had a four-year residency at the SMART Project Space, Amsterdam.  She lives and works in New York.