a useless task it seems
I sit and sew—a useless task it seems,
My hands grown tired, my head weighed down with dreams—
The panoply of war, the martial tred of men,
Grim-faced, stern-eyed, gazing beyond the ken
Of lesser souls, whose eyes have not seen Death,
Nor learned to hold their lives but as a breath—
But—I must sit and sew
—Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson
The art and design duo Midgray (Kris Blackmore and Simon Boas), with artist Pat Boas, presents new bodies of work that reflect on the cyclical nature of repression, resilience, and resignation. Approaching these themes through seemingly distinct mediums, the artists examine the floods of information that have swept us into this particular cultural and political moment. Together they question how we can imagine alternatives as we struggle to keep our heads above water.
In her collection of textile pieces and home goods, Kris Blackmore draws from the cultural and personal anxiety that has accompanied our gradual and then sudden transition into a post-Roe society. These works are both historical and speculative in nature. Looking back and then forward in time, they implore the viewer to consider the urgency of our present situation.
Through symbolism and the encoding of vital healthcare information these works recall the ways women throughout time and place have found ways to communicate about their lives and oppression via skills frequently discounted by the art market and patriarchal societies as frivolous craft. Simultaneously, references to binary code and viral maker movements situate us in the modern day. As states ban abortions, social media has proven its effectiveness as a source of information, distribution, and coordination for those seeking to terminate. Conversely, it’s a reminder of the role digital surveillance plays in maintaining control over the reproductive autonomy of marginalized groups.
Simon Boas investigates how digital mass media normalizes violence. By leveraging artificial intelligence to break apart and rearrange news imagery into a smooth gradient of predicted emotional responses, he attempts to regulate–to an absurd degree–the level of chaos to which we are exposed every day. In another work, Boas records the initial moments of every first-person shooter video game he played up until the age at which he was legally permitted to purchase a firearm. The recordings reveal a motif: Time and time again, he is taught to fire a virtual gun at a living being. Taken together, these works form an inquiry into the patterns made palatable through modern technology as well as the limits of the technologies that enforce those patterns.
Exhibited at Carnation Contemporary December 3, 2022-January 1, 2023