Gallery Wendi Norris is pleased to present Three Fates, featuring works by artists Ambreen Butt, Chitra Ganesh, and Eva Schlegel at Fort Mason Center Pier 2 in San Francisco. Three Fates will be the seventh exhibition in the gallery’s innovative offsite exhibition model. On view from January 13 – January 30, 2022.
In ancient cultures across the globe, Fate was understood as a cosmic force that existed beyond the control of human activity. For the Greeks, it was personified by three women so powerful that even the Olympian deities were subject to their decisions. Clotho (from whose name the English word “cloth” is derived) would spin the thread of an individual’s life. Lachesis would measure and allot it; finally Atropos—the inflexible one, the oldest of the three—would cut it, thus determining the moment of death.
As we reflect on the past year and prepare to enter a new one, beset by global powers so vast (political, medical, economic, climatological) as to feel impersonal in their reach, Gallery Wendi Norris presents the work of three artists whose diverse experience and work examine, reflect, and reckon with the vexing problems and delightful possibilities that Fate provides. Three Fates is an opportunity to reconsider in the present moment the primeval concept of Fate, as well as the role it may (or may not) play in our individual and collective lives.
Imbuing the sacred tradition of miniature painting with contemporary concerns and practices that involve sewing, cutting, weaving, and etching, Ambreen Butt(Pakistan, b. 1969, Dallas-based) gathers memories, experiences, and accounts of lives passed, into her works on paper and installations. Three Fates includes new collages from her Say My Name series. Created as a means to explore the relationship between power and vulnerability and to pay homage to innocent lives lost, each artwork incorporates the name and age of a single Afghan or Pakistani child or woman killed in U.S. drone strikes. Butt stains paper in tea, then separately and repeatedly writes or prints out the person’s name, shreds it into pieces, and arranges and glues the shredded fragments to her tea-stained paper in dense, swirling patterns. This process, undertaken with repetitive and transformational urgency, reconsiders the ripping, tearing action of a drone strike in order to elevate the names of its victims into shapes of exquisite grace and enduring strength. Three Fates also includes I am my lost diamond 2, a 9’ x 12’ floor-based installation of resin-cast digits on plexiglass that was inspired by a friend’s story of narrowly escaping a suicide bombing in a bazaar near Lahore.
Elaborating with humor and conviction a mythological multiverse of her own invention, Chitra Ganesh (New York, b. 1975, Brooklyn-based) meditates on themes of reflection and regeneration in times of uncertainty. Her practice considers the power of collective dreams, collective consciousness, and universally held archetypes that are both primordial and future-facing. Three Fates features Multiverse Dreaming, a new suite of twelve digital prints that were recently on view at the Bronx Museum’s Born in Flames: Feminist Futures; as well as The Scorpion Gesture, a series of five animated videos commissioned by the Rubin Museum New York, include accompanying sound scores by Chitra Ganesh. The Scorpion Gesture will screen daily in Pier 2’s Grey Box, a black box designed for film and video productions. All five videos use the figures of Padmasambhava, known as the Second Buddha, and Maitreya, the Future Buddha, as points of departure. The animation works build on Ganesh’s long standing investigation of mythology, iconographies and pictorial traditions across geography and time to explore alternative narratives and possible futures.
Eva Schlegel’s (Austria, b. 1960, Vienna-based) installations explore cosmic and human time; an imagined defiance of physical limitations of the body, revolving around their viewers’ movements in time and space. Three Fates will include a sculpture nearly nine feet in diameter, suspended from Pier 2’s two-story ceiling, composed of nine circular mirror elements joined into each other. At the same time, her blurred photographic portraits focus on the intimate transitions between the presence and absence of her subjects by removing details in her images, often by capturing images out-of-focus or blurring the details later.
With the ethereal vision and unflinching courage of these artists as a guide, Three Fates invites viewers to look with equanimity and wonder at the implacable forces that spin, measure, and bring our life and time to its ultimate conclusion.