LIVIA CORONA BENJAMIN : MANHATTAN TRANSFER
April 9 — May 9, 2015
NEW YORK — Sgorbati Projects is pleased to present an exhibition of sculpture and photography by Livia Corona Benjamin. This will be Corona Benjamin’s first solo show in New York. The exhibition’s title, Manhattan Transfer, suggests the expectation of promise embedded in specific geographic locations. For Corona Benjamin, who was born in Mexico and currently lives in New York, this theme runs parallel to artistic practice—Manhattan being the assumed epicenter of artistic achievement. The exhibition includes two ongoing bodies of work: English as a Second Language (2015-) is a series of sculptures that pair English language idioms with trade-goods of colonization and current cultural commodities. Infinite Rewrite (2014-) is a series of unique photographs created from a single negative, and modified through experimentation in an analog color darkroom. Important to Corona Benjamin is the state of arriving and the repetition of task often associated with this process—the mechanical aspects of getting there. Visually disparate, the works in both series echo the stream-of-consciousness narrative and interwoven stories present in the 1925 John Dos Passos novel from which the exhibition’s title is taken.
The sculptures of English as a Second Language (2015-) parody mastery of the English language as a crucial necessity for the non-English speaker to become more globally relevant. Phrases such as “Beer Before Liquor” or “Red and Yellow Kills a Fellow”—which purport to improve life experience, or improve chances of survival in the wild, if only recalled correctly—find themselves entwined with leather, fur, silver and basketball. Corona Benjamin additionally appropriates phrases from tourist souvenir T-shirts. Another Shitty Day in Paradise (2015) is spelled out with silver curio-shop keychain letters, evoking the manufactured ennui of popular vacation destinations as well as that of the foreigner transplanted to the United States—or more accurately, the Mexican artist at work in her Manhattan studio.
The seventeen photographs exhibited as part of Infinite Rewrite (2014-) use and reuse a single image taken by the artist as part of her extensive documentation of repurposed grain silos, the architectural remnants of a flawed and abandoned agricultural program instituted by the Mexican government. The conical building, devoid of its original purpose and function, becomes a Tabula Rasa for the artist’s light studies as an indefinite exercise. Through an analog process, the image is fractured into marks of color not present in the original black-and-white negative. Resembling tightly formed brushstrokes, these marks overlap and recombine to form shifting optical patterns. The obscured but emergent image is thus stripped of any discernible sociological or documentarian intent. Acknowledged is the immigrant's evolving heritage and inevitable shedding of political baggage from the Old Country” in the process of assimilation and becoming Naturalized. One work in the series, Dream Acts (2015), whose colors are derived from the LGBT pride flag, reintroduces a political narrative disjointed from pictorial subject matter. Referenced is the fight for marriage equality, celebrating, after a lengthy holding pattern, one fulfillment of American promise.
Livia Corona BenjaminAnother Shitty Day in Paradise, 2015
11 1/2 x 14 x 1 1/2 Inches
silver on velvet, plastic finger, acrylic polish, ribbon
Livia Corona BenjaminEnglish as a Second Language legend, 2015
89 x 66 x 6 Inches
tackle twill letters, bear skin rug, basketball
Livia Corona BenjaminRx (Red and Yellow Kills a Fellow), 2015
26 x 9 x 3 Inches
Antonio Pineda Silver Thumbprint Bracelet, Enrique Ledesma Silver and green Lapis Lazuli bracelet, silver spoon, photographic print, silver and glass goblet, abalone shell earring, Garfield pendant, silver chains, plastic figa