Of this body; of this earth
Holiday is pleased to present Miller Robinson: Of this body; of this earth at the historic Southwest Museum. The exhibition opens on May 20 from 1-3pm and will be on view until July 7, 2018.
The Southwest Museum was originally founded in 1907 by Charles Lummis in Downtown Los Angeles and relocated in 1914 to its current location, designed by Sumner P. Hunt and Silas Reese Burns, in Mount Washington. Robinson’s exhibition takes place in the 281-foot-long tunnel built in 1920 and modeled on Casa de Monjas at Chichen-Itza. The tunnel was intended as the pedestrian entrance to the museum which sits on a hill 100 feet above, and was initially full of a series of historical dioramas, housed in alcoves along both sides of the tunnel, depicting the lives and times of the Native people from the region that became California.
Of this body; of this earth is an investigation of the historical and mythological overlaps of earth, body, and tool. By exhibiting raw materials, handmade tools, diagrammatic drawings, and recordings of fire, Robinson aims to understand and connect the dots between matter, time, and human existence. Her works draw upon the elemental compositions of the materials that she uses, creating fundamental tools that could be used to grind, mark, and measure. Existing as indexical or narrative artifacts, each tool’s intended function is informed and activated by the matter of its anatomy; mirroring the elemental functions that take place in our bodies.
For her site-specific installation Robinson has embraced the linear confines of the tunnel, dividing the works into two parallel categories. Half of the alcoves house Robinson’s “eggs” which take the form of spheres, cubes, and pyramids made of plaster and coated internally with pigments. Their outer shell gives no sign to their inner makings unless cracked—leaving behind concentrated fragments of the same trace elements residing in the human body. The remaining half of the alcoves contain her tools, each accompanied by a “chalkboard” depicting notes and sketches about their corresponding object. Although each tool is crafted uniquely using a broad range of materials and processes, Robinson sees fire as the unifying force throughout. Her choice to rest each of the tools upon a bed of ash brings to attention the domestication of fire and mythological notions of rebirth.
As a gesture of preservation Robinson opens the exhibition with a quote from Lummis himself transcribed above the entrance of the museum’s tower: “[man] cracked two stones together--a spark--and [he] was armed against the weather.” Of this body; of this earth begins and ends with fire; the ashes holding the potential for what has been and what is yet to come.
Miller Robinson lives and works in Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Heritage Square Museum, Ben Maltz Gallery, and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), all location in Los Angeles as well as HORESEANDPONY Fine Arts and Ying Colosseum in Berlin amongst others. millerrobinson.net
Holiday is a non-location based interdisciplinary curatorial project founded by Luke Forsyth and Pejman Shojaei. Their nomadic curatorial approach works collaboratively and holistically with artists and spaces to mount exhibitions and public programs that expose viewers to a wide array of art, sound, and movement. hhholllidddayyy.com
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Photography by Chris Hanke