RIDGEFIELD, CONN.- Xaviera Simmons's body of work spans photography, performance, video, sound and installation. She defines her studio practice, which is rooted in an ongoing investigation of experience, memory, abstraction, present and future histories, and specifically shifting notions surrounding landscape, as cyclical rather than linear.
For Underscore, Simmons looks at how artists draw directly from the movements, subtitles, and concepts of other practitioners in order to produce work. She makes visible the rehearsal process of studio practice, with its ups, downs, and in-betweens, showing how inspiration informs rehearsing, which as it unfolds gives birth to new expression in the culminating work. The exhibition includes two photographs from the Untitled (Cape) series; a slide installation, Into the Rehearsal (2013); and the premiere of a site-specific performance work, Number 17 (2013).
In Warm Leatherette and Horse (both 2009), Simmons selects diverse record sleeves as the catalyst for the photographs; simultaneously landscape surveyor, photographer, actor, and musician, she stages characters in scenic locales with each face (re)placed by an LP cover depicting a familiar portrait of a musician. This project combines her engagement with landscape, locales, portraiture and performance.
Simmons examines contemporary modes of collecting and archiving in Into the Rehearsal, showing forty slides of digitally manipulated low-res images culled from online Jamaican dance hall footage. Projected on a slow fade in a locked room, seen through an aperture, these images focus on a popular form of dance called daggering.
Number 17, the artist's most complex endurance-based performance to date, will be presented over five hours on opening day at The Aldrich, transforming the Opatrny Gallery into an active rehearsal/studio space, where the audience will confront "acts" of visual and sound construction, informed by post-modern avant-garde performance techniques, improvisational sound art, endurance practices, and action painting. A video recording and vestiges of the artistic process will not only document the event and its aftermath, but act as testament to the synergy of art, its production, immediate reception, and everlasting legacy..
As a totality, the works on view underscore the experimental, the improvisational, and the collaborative as critical systems of art practice, collapsing the artist/audience and artist/performer dynamic to make evident the processes during and after the making.