Wide shot of the art gallery

Tamar Ettun: Jubilation Inflation

This exhibition was on view October 14-November 26, 2019

The Art Gallery at Pace University is pleased to present Jubilation Inflation, a solo exhibition by Tamar Ettun curated by Sarah Cunningham on view from October 14-November 26, 2019. A reception for the artist will be held on Tuesday, October 15 from 5:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. The exhibition, the title of which is inspired by Rose McLarney’s poem, On Orange, unifies different areas of Ettun’s practice in a nuanced examination of trauma, healing, and somatic empathy. Influenced by mid-century avant-garde art movements such as Fluxus and Gutai, which promoted individual agency in the face of state control, the artist invites viewers to explore the transformative impact of play. Viewers tangibly experience playfulness’ potential for healing through multisensory artworks that encourage joy, movement, and social engagement.

Consistent with the artist’s long commitment to movement and collaboration as a means to combat isolation and trauma, Jubilation Inflation is a creative evolution of a previous exhibit at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas curated by Alisha Kerlin. The new exhibit, which includes experimental videos, photography, and mixed-media sculpture, also features Ettun’s inflatable room-sized environments, which visitors enter to become enveloped by vivid color. The culmination of a tetralogy of inflatable spaces, Jubilation Inflation finds new ways to draw connections between color and emotion, dividing the project into chapters—blue/empathy, yellow/desire, pink/aggression, and orange/joy. In Pace’s new gallery, fluidity and social connection are accentuated and extended by the facility’s street-level access and broad windows. Most notably, the new iteration of the exhibit will debut Sound Hammock. This interactive multi-channel sound installation is a hammock woven of cable wire and ten speakers placed in the Kabbalistic spherot diagram featuring a soundtrack by composer Helado Negro.

Expanding beyond her personal experience, Ettun has engaged with the constant existential tension between pain and joy in her artistic practice. However, the human potential for transformation through empathy has absorbed her since her upbringing in Israel, where she lived with two siblings suffering from cystic fibrosis and eventually witnessed the numbing impact of institutional brutality when she was conscripted into a military parachute regiment as a young adult. Repurposing the parachute, a tool of war, to create spaces of healing typifies the complexity embedded in her artistic practice. By dyeing and sewing the parachutes, Ettun further disrupts the intrinsic patriarchy of the military industrial complex via hand work that has been historically associated with women’s labor.

Ettun’s emphasis on movement as a form of resistance to the paralyzing quality of trauma is informed by Dr. Bessel A. van der Kolk’s research in The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. “Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: the past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort,” Dr. van der Kolk notes, “In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them.” He concludes, “When our senses become muffled, we no longer feel fully alive.” As such, Ettun creates immersive environments that are in constant change through blowing air, billowing fabric, and visitor play. Even her still sculptures have been constructed so that they seem to gesture like human bodies. In 2013, understanding that movement dislodges fixed physical and psychological states of being, Ettun formed The Moving Company, an artist collective to research movement as an expression of empathetic presence in space and community. Now operating independently and comprised of Rebecca Pristoop, Laura Bernstein, Tina Wang, Annabel Paran, and Scynge Yunxin Xing, the collective will perform their new piece, Whose Is A Place, at the conclusion of the opening reception on October 15th. The Moving Company will also create a new performance with Pace students in the Live Art course to be performed on November 12.

Moving images animate the exhibit and extend the exploration of play and radical healing. As such, the exhibit features three discrete sets of videos. First, are Ettun’s own works, one of which reclaims the meaning of the parachute by inverting its motion from dropping to flying back up into the sky, thereby undoing the trauma. Second, is video documentation of past The Moving Company performances engaging with Ettun’s massive inflatable objects. Third, is a video program of colorful, feminist, and poetic works selected by the artist to accompany her exhibition. This program includes works by Lorena Barrera Enciso (Hoyo Negro, 2017), Alika Cooper (Chthonic (Ivy), 2018), Cheryl Donegan (Cheryl, 2005), Trulee Hall (The Fertile Blue, 2018), Joan Jonas (Reanimation, 2010/2012/2013), Analia Segal (Inland 1, 2015), and Jen Liu (Pink Slime Caesar Shift, 2018).

About the Artist

Tamar Ettun (b.1982, Jerusalem) is a Brooklyn-based sculptor, performance artist, and educator. She will give a public artist talk at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, November 12. She has exhibited and performed at many venues including Pioneer Works, The Barrick Museum UNLV, Art Omi Sculpture Garden, The Watermill Center, e-flux, Sculpture Center, Knockdown Center, Madison Square Park, Bryant Park, Socrates Sculpture Park, Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Jewish Museum, Uppsala Art Museum, Fridman Gallery, Braverman Gallery, Herzelia Biennial, PERFORMA 09, 11 and 13, among others. Additionally, Ettun has received awards and fellowships from The Pollock Krasner Foundation, Franklin Furnace, MacDowell Fellowship, Marble House Project, RECESS, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Art Production Fund and Iaspis, Swedish Arts Grants Committee. She currently teaches at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, Lehman College, and Parsons School of Design at The New School. She received her MFA from Yale University in 2010.