“Much of my practice focuses on the vast wave of images that collectively circulate online. By the nature of ‘showing and sharing’ visual culture, images become orphaned from their intent and authorship, and distinctions between originals and copies are lost.”
In Fresh Kills, Irene Mamiye addresses the unique philosophical implications of social media, technology, and the ubiquity of digital imagery. Mamiye playfully considers Roland Barthes’ philosophy in The Death of the Author by creating original works from freely available, often mass-distributed, visuals. The reanimation of this imagery marks a new stage in the lifecycle of an image, acting as the beautiful and vivacious, post-modern constructions of un-dead authors. This three-fold exhibition features digital collages, CNC-milled Plexiglas sculptures, and video shorts.
In her Homage series, Mamiye first amasses collections of Instagram posts. These appropriated images are then plugged into Photoshop to be manipulated and layered into something new. The final images are a mélange of public posts that have been recorded and recontextualized into collective digital tableaux; an original made from the ubiquitous. Similarly, the Ciphers works contain internal logic, code, and encryption that has been selectively manipulated to form the resulting Plexiglas assemblages. The transparent material acts as a real-world “filter”, or screen. The etched geometric patterns are intended to reference the pixelation and noise resulting from .jpeg compression. Adding another twist to the story of these constructions, Ciphers recently became DeCiphers on the blockchain as 1000 generatively created NFT’s which sold within days of the drop. The collection can be viewed on OpenSea.io.
Her Iconic Works video shorts consider works of art that have transcended authorship in a different way. Each video features an “iconic” sculpture or installation by contemporary or historical artists. As icons, these works exist in the collective consciousness of art lovers. They are mythologized in contemporary culture and now function outside of, and beyond, artistic authorship. In Fresh Kills, Mamiye’s virtual animations depict Jennifer Steinkamp’s Pearls, Damien Hirst’s butterfly wing assemblages, and the Hellenistic sculpture Venus de Milo in increasing states of self-determination or destruction representing their respective departures from the original intent of the artist.
Irene Mamiye is a New York-based artist whose work incorporates photography, video, and digital imaging techniques. Since 2006, the artist has tapped into the vastly growing, ever-changing landscapes of internet-based technology through archiving and manipulating online imagery. Irene Mamiye was born in Marseille, France and immigrated to the U.S as an adolescent. She holds a BA in Photography and Global Studies from Gallatin New York University and an MFA in Lens Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her work was included in the landmark exhibition The Edge of Vision (2009), mounted by the Aperture Foundation, in the Museum of Art and Design’s Multiple Exposures: Jewelry and Photography (2014), and again at the Aperture Foundation in Photography Is Magic (2016). Mamiye’s work has also been featured in the following publications: Architectural Digest, Interior Design Magazine, Vanity Fair, People Magazine, Elle Décor, and InStyle.
“My works on paper reflect fragments of thoughts, feelings, or sensations that are provisional and ephemeral. They are the realization of a moment or the residue of the day. Reflecting the stream of my consciousness, some are analogous to a single word or utterance, and others -- often diptychs or triptychs -- resemble excerpts from a longer narrative.
I work exclusively on paper which, like skin, is fragile and permeable. It yields readily to the touch, calling to mind the imperfections that accumulate with time and experience on the body and the psyche… .
My work is small, spare, and reticent, a conscious choice. In a world where so much seems big, loud, and competing for attention, I value what is otherwise and regret that it is often overlooked. I am interested in how little one can say and still convey meaning.”
- Rita Bernstein
Quiet and mysterious, Bernstein’s work is a catalog of tactile experiences. The artist combines her distinctive mark-making with manipulation of the paper itself through pokes, probes, strokes, squeezes, and tickles. Some pieces suggest the pages of a book or journal with scratches and diagrams that appear almost, but not quite, decipherable. Others resemble scientific or medical procedures – a smear of vaguely biological material or a tenderly sutured laceration.
Touched presents a short survey of Bernstein’s current studio practice that includes individual framed works, diptychs and triptychs, an installation of calendar pages, and a book of stains. Each component provides a space for contemplation and empathy. Tactile sensation is, perhaps, our most primal sense, and Bernstein’s compassionate handling connects to a deeply felt shared experience of benevolence and care, the most basic definition of humanity.
Rita Bernstein was born in Brooklyn, New York, and following a career as a civil rights attorney, she began her art career in photography and works on paper. She has an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, a B.A. in English, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Barnard College of Columbia University; and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Her work is in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; the University of Michigan Museum of Art; and the Woodmere Art Museum. Her work has been widely exhibited, including at the Griffin Museum; the Noyes Museum of Art; Fleisher Art Memorial; the University of Pennsylvania; Moore College of Art and Design; and the University of the Arts. Bernstein was selected for the prestigious Fleisher Art Memorial Challenge Exhibition and has also been the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; the Independence Foundation; the Leeway Foundation; and the Ruttenberg Arts Foundation. Her works have been reviewed in many publications, including the New York Times; the Photo Review; the Boston Globe; the Philadelphia Inquirer; Black and White Magazine; and Lenswork, among others.
Touched is Rita Bernstein’s first solo exhibition with Gross McCleaf Gallery. Bernstein lives and works in Philadelphia and New York.