September 10 - October 15, 2023
Opening: Sunday, September 10, 5-8pm
Soloway Gallery and curator Orli Swergold are pleased to present WORMHOLES, a solo show of works on paper, monotypes, and single channel video by Kerry Downey.
This body of work presents queer temporalities as ruptures in space/time, where the often invisible or underground labor of processing, digesting, and composting materials activates a transfeminist sublime. Both the works on paper and video in WORMHOLES contain dense haptic activity – tracing and tunneling across surfaces and sites. While labor-intensive, these works are also improvisational, rooted in Downey’s background in performance and time-based practices.
Downey writes: “In search of the hole, I become it. With an insatiable hunger, I take a lot in and I shit a lot out. Pages pile upon pages of doodling, writing and research. Prolificacy is an antidote to hole-iness. I’m an earthworm, faith-noodling underground.”
Earthworms are decomposers, capable of turning “a compost heap into a web of appetites, chewing through waste, excreting nutrients and soil, producing heat that further encourages the decay process. A heap of inert matter is soon a pulsing, humming, sweating community of creation.” (Sophie Strand)
The worm works with what it's got - the readymade, the found object or site, the scrap - reusing materials, including oneself. Downey writes “Scraps are important because they represent multiple trace histories, messy and incomplete. I have both a deep affection for and an anxiety about waste. My superego can't touch the scrap because it's always on the verge of being trash. This helps keep the stakes low, giving me a lot of room for experimentation. But there is a simultaneous pressure to rescue the scrap – the worm is always working hard to reintegrate the things that have been cast aside.”
In their single channel video, also titled Wormholes (2006-2022), Downey has reassembled their early videos into a new mega-edit, repurposing and unfixing their own content. In this sprawling and looping piece, Downey performs “the artist” through an absurd and sensorial activation of found materials and sites – a paint factory, a museum, a site specific sculpture, to name a few. As versions of Downey and their past works are spliced together, cut-outs from one video begin to appear inside of others. “As a gender/queer person, the other side of feeling fractured is feeling multiple.”
Downey’s monotypes similarly reuse elements of earlier drawings and prints as stencils or collage, a scrappy process that is obsessive and playful. “This reworking of my archive requires an unlimited number of fuck ups and disasters, ruptures and repairs. I’m wondering about the possibilities and limitations of re/use, and that which can/not be recovered.”
The scrap, layered with histories, is also a part-object with a tense relationship to a w/hole. All objects, images, or selves are always on the verge of returning to the trash heap. The scrap wants belonging, grounding, but also wants to remain feral, light on its toes.
“I am using these vectors of energy, a kinaesthetic experience that can hold disgust and shame and grief alongside desire and pleasure. The image-event is the possibility of elsewhere. Something breaks open in me, and breakdown is breakthrough. POW! A wormhole opens and I can travel forwards and backwards and elsewhere in time. This is the ecstacy of moving between disintegration and emergence, what Sophie Strand describes as being ‘between ripeness and rot.’”