Work from Underneath at The New Museum asks how we can transform the trauma and despair of drowning in the depths of the unknown into a meaningful workable strategy for hope. Health and Safety guidelines with their texts of social control are turned into poems about being safe in somebody’s arms. These paintings act as a bridge between yesterday and tomorrow, they actively lead us towards a way of working collaboratively.
Old Boat/New Money
The multi-layered sound of an old, creaking, wooden boat drifting aimlessly on a vast stretch of ocean fills the room acting as a soundtrack to a steeply undulating row of tall grey painted planks, leaning sliding lifting and falling.
As a disintegrating vessel or an immense wave or an endless shore littered with cowrie shells; the visual image shifts and the sickening sound of the sea relentlessly comes and goes. Sounds played overhead in the grey concrete gallery, soaking the space with seawater and uncertainty.
Move then to a place in which there are clear highly coloured paintings that appear to be designed to be remembered. Visitors must rely on these paintings filled with colour to pull them forward to a path of hope.
Old Boat/New Money Lubaina Himid: WORK FROM UNDERNEATH New Museum, New York, USA 2019
Reduce the Time Spent Holding
People are making and building; interwoven through the musicality of their mechanical cutting or steady hammering, the rip and tear of fabric and the whirr of a sewing machine, is a voice. At times, it is an authoritative command spoken from a distance allowing us to feel the volume of the acoustic space and at others it is an intimate whisper, close to your ear, she gives you instructions; how to keep safe, how to avoid danger, how to survive.
This soft, quiet voice, encourages the visitor to listen intently to these sounds of making while looking out through a large window with a view of the Bowery into hundreds of rooms in the buildings all around. Past and new narratives of trauma and rescue are painted in sound onto their interiors.