Silverlens Galleries is proud to present Exoskeleton, the solo exhibition of the London-based, Filipino artist Nicole Coson. In this series composed of large-scale monotype prints that diachronically plots the gradual breakdown of blinds, Coson ruminates on this prosaic architectural solution that negotiates the disclosure/exposure of private life as well as the extent to which the outside may be framed and observed, either through a small gap between the slats or their full retreat into the rail mechanism. Invisibility may be calibrated and made tactical; opacity relents to transparency, and vice versa; the angle of sight is what orders the world.
The context of this show, which remains to be a persistent and pernicious reality, is the pandemic centered in the United Kingdom's capital, crippled by months-long lockdown orders and threatened by a COVID-19 strain, called the UK variant, that is said to be more transmissible and fatal. Other people's bodies, as possible vectors of the infection, become suspect. The house, with its association as the soul's refuge (now anachronistic), achieves a more militarized meaning: a fortress, a line of defense, a protective shield from the diseased others. The outside is a site of contamination. It may only be allowed as slices of fractured glimpses mediated by the blinds. The one inside may scan and scrutinize; but the one outside, fool-hardy in their open imperilment reckless or otherwise, may not. The optical reciprocity is frustrated.
As such, the blinds act as a mode of deliberate concealment, a theme that Coson has explored in her other exhibitions, chiefly in her Camouflage series. With the slats individually painted and laid gradually under the press, the blinds transmit their form onto the cloth—the real made to testify to the illusory representation it forges. Through repeated pressing, the rhythmically meditative horizontal bands unravel, with the slats breaking away from a tightly rigorous pattern to an improvisatory mode sparked by the unforeseen tension between machine, matrix, and medium. Lines buckle, overlap, zigzag. Paint reveals cloth which reveals ultimately nothing: there is no there there (Gertrude Stein). Sequentiality is harmed beyond repair.
Read symbolically, the disintegration of the blinds, fastidiously documented, alludes to the unravelling of defenses, to the unforetold exposure to susceptibility. The others, temporarily held at bay, may pivot their gaze. Emboldened by the awareness that they are being observed, they may stare back, establish eyepaths, plot vantage points. The forceful imposition of inwardness brought about by the exclusionary function of the blinds evaporates. Disclosure endangers. The house, separated by a mere sliver of glass, has to reckon with its conflicted correspondence to the exterior.
As material imprint of a destroyed mechanism, the blinds' initial promise of revelation gives way to the rude realization that these works are exoskeletal extension of the interior gallery walls, in the same way that the building envelope of the house is the exoskeletal extension of the fragile, vulnerable body (made all the more apparent in light of the rampaging global infection)—an arbitrary and penetrable armor. At once a seduction and a disavowal of sight, Exoskeleton offers the notion of painting as a membrane, as a dislocated window, as an exquisite disruption to the predictability of vision.
Carlomar Arcangel Daoana
Lapanday Center, 2263 Don Chino Roces Extension.
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