Seven sculptures, suspended from the ceiling throughout the main gallery, broadcast a seven-channel sound installation that mixes underwater recordings collected along Florida’s Gulf coastline with abstracted voices reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish. Over 8 minutes, the sounds travel from one sculpture to the next, snaking through the gallery. The installation culminates with all sculptures playing in unison, and then continues on loop.
Dreams of Unknown Islands: Sasha Wortzel
In their solo exhibition DREAMS OF UNKNOWN ISLANDS, Wortzel references cycles of life be they natural, influenced, extracted or at times accelerated by human interference. Voices, sunsets, snake skins, shells and other layered textures are stand-ins for shorelines, boundaries and horizons that are remixed or reimagined using video, sound, and sculpture. This work is the result of long term research, observation and recording by Wortzel of the Southern Florida Coast. More recently this work has run alongside navigating the day to day news of collective loss, ecological collapse and political uprisings. The artist uses the Mourner’s Kaddish, a 13th century Aramaic prayer as a primary source, inviting us to come together in a collective process that moves our grief towards healing. As voices and sea levels rise, Wortzel marks and distorts time all the while calling out for some semblance of peace, care for the land and each other and eventual liberation.
About the Artist
Born and raised in Southwest Florida, Sasha Wortzel (she/they) is an artist and filmmaker working between Miami and New York City. Blending the archival and the imaginary, her films, installations, and performances map the ways that structures of power haunt and inextricably shape our contemporary landscape. Wortzel’s films have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art’s DocFortnight, True/False Film Festival, DOC NYC, BAMcinématek, Blackstar, Berlinale, and Sharjah Film Platform. Their work has been exhibited at the New Museum, Brooklyn Museum, The Kitchen, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; Krannert Art Museum, Champaign; and SALTS, Birsfelden. Wortzel has been supported by the Sundance Institute, Art Matters, Field of Vision, Queer/Art/Mentorship, a 2018 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in film/video, and a Ellies 2020 Creator Award. Wortzel has participated in residencies including the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, Abrons Arts Residency for Visual Artists, Watermill Center, New York; and AIRIE (Artists in Residence in the Everglades), Florida. She is a 2020 studio resident at Oolite Arts, Miami Beach. Wortzel’s film Happy Birthday Marsha! (2018; co-director Tourmaline) won special mention at Outfest and is distributed by Frameline. This is an Address (2020) is distributed by Field of Vison. Their work is in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum and Leslie Lohman Museum of Art. She has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, and New York Magazine. Wortzel received an MFA from Hunter College.
About the Curator
Kristan Kennedy is an accomplished curator, artist, and educator. She is the Artistic Director / Curator of Visual Art at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA). She manages and directs PICA’s year-round Exhibition Program, where she focuses on the commissioning and development of large-scale projects with artists that exist at the borders of genres.
Kennedy is an artist who has been exhibited internationally most recently in Flat Fix, Halsey McKay Gallery, NY; Eyes, Ditch Projects, OR; Sunday, Crisp-Ellert Museum, FL; Kristan Kennedy Meets a Clock, Soloway, NY; Sleeper Fourteen30 Contemporary, OR; OO, Misako & Rosen, JP., Tomorrow, Tomorrow, CANADA, Stretch/Release, Durst Britt & Mayhew, NL, and Other Colors, Fourteen30 Contemporary. Kennedy received the Bonnie Bronson Fellowship in 2018. She is represented by Fourteen30 Contemporary Art, Portland, Oregon.
Kennedy teaches Contemporary Art History at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in their MFA Visual Studies program and formerly at Portland State University for the BFA and MFA Studio Practice program and Social Practice MFA Program. She is a member of the board at The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. She has published several essays on artists’ work, curatorial practice, and ethics in journals and for exhibitions nationally, most recently contributing to As radical, as mother, as salad, as shelter: What should art institutions do now? published by Paper Monument, NY; Songs for Sabotage, Triennial Catalog, New Museum, NY; Like a Valentine, Jeffry Mitchell, Henry Art Gallery, WA and is currently co-publishing artist Andrea Geyer’s first major monograph Dance in a Future with All Present with Dancing Foxes Press, NY.
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