Sabrina Gschwandtner’s “Hands at Work” at Shoshana Wayne Gallery
By Sydney Walters
Through July 15th
This month, Shoshana Wayne Gallery presents “Hands at Work,” a solo show by multi-medium artist Sabrina Gschwandtner who literally dissects films to comment on the evolution of maker and renegotiates historic women’s craft as liberating rather than divisive.
In 1994, Sabrina Gschwandtner took a film class that combined historic films with psychoanalysis. Here, Gschwandtner was introduced to oneiric film theory, or instances of dream-like depictions. Think Maya Darren or Alfred Hitchcock films. Once exposed to the ingenuity and mastery of blending mediums and psychosis, Gschwandtner studied art and semiotics at Brown University and continues to pay homage to these gifted filmmakers by transporting the viewer into a refreshing reality.
Back in 2009, the Fashion Institute of Technology began organizing their stockpile of fashion films. Originally collected as source material for professors to show their class, rolls of 16mm films where inevitably outdated due to digitization. For Sabrina Gschwandtner, the school gifted yards of archived footage for her unbridled use. These filmstrips ultimately launched her into a thorough exploration of the methods and modes of what it means to be handmade.
Her film quilts are displayed over light boxes in order to see the miniature panels of each film’s reel. The nature of cutting and sewing demands particular physical edits to fit a template. But Gschwandtner takes does little editing when it comes to the content on the actual footage reel. For example, she includes the film’s leader, or start frames like the ones seen in vintage films counting down from 10 to 1 before the movie begins.
She also permits discolored footage in her quilts as many of these filmstrips have changed color since their original production. Through a phenomenon called “vinegar syndrome,” the acetate on the film becomes discolored if stored improperly and exposed to humidity and heat. Yet it is these natural color variances, as well as some color additions made in her studio, that draw a rich parallel to traditional American quilting. The filmstrip sprockets are re-engaged by thread as it stitches the strips together. Seeing as it takes twenty-four still frames to create one second of motion, scanning the film is like seeing a Twilight Zone time warp where time follows the rules of a different reality.
On her process of turning filmstrips into textiles, Gschwandtner notes, “I consider these as short films. I am re-editing them with overall patterns to create different scenes…they are a hybrid of film, quilts, representational and abstract art.” By digging into what she calls a “trove of discarded images,” she fashions a contemporary catalog of historic film that not only holds true to its authentic mode of projection, but through a process re-editing, undertakes an entirely new interpretation and rethinking crafts(wo)manship.
“Hands at Work” will be on view from June 3, 2017 to July 15, 2017
Shoshana Wayne Gallery is at Bergamot Station
2525 Michigan Ave, B1 Santa Monica, CA 90404
Tuesday- Friday 10am-6pm