Maps are landscapes drenched in text. The road is lined with letters. I’m not sure what exists before road. Maybe it looks like rocks on a bed. Maybe the road is a bedsheet. You cannot look outside your window, because the window is inside, you are not looking at the building outside your window you are looking at the building inside your bedroom. An entire office lives next to your refrigerator. The building can no longer bear the burden of the weight it carries, it swells, it pisses, it leaks information from the unit above. The stain is a ready-made past. You can be out and look in but you can’t be in and look out. I take pieces of outside in and they try to adjust. At night inside is marked by squares of yellow. Night exists outside but inside there is infinity. Past is maintained by present or present invents past. I use the map to remember where the castles are. I examine the setting patterns of the castles. They are not on hilltops, they are on flat ground. The ground attempted stratification, it tried to keep “ago” under, but it was upturned and now a piece of “ago” lies next to the car. Tiny houses have taught me that straight lines are responsible for everything but it is so difficult to create a straight line, everything is jagged and curved, so we go out to look for it instead.
— Alix Vernet
Water Damage presents new work from LA-based artists Arielle Chiara and Alix Vernet. The exhibition considers the boundary between indoor and outdoor spaces, examining how we understand and define these spatial limits. Through a series of sculptures and wall-based works, the artists undermine our associations of interior and exterior through using a combination of materials that conflate the manufactured, the natural and the handmade.
Topographical interventions made from found silk and halite crystals mined by Chiara herself accompany three of Vernet’s miniaturised architectural constructions. Based on children’s play tents, these sculptures resemble fairytale castles and the most simplified, characteristic family home. Whether in structures built specifically for indoor spaces, or fragments unearthed from the ground, both artists envision landscape through the lens of the interior.
Mottled with blotches and spills, the ceiling tiles that cover Vernet’s house expose stains as markers to deconstruct time, as they express a layered accumulation of matter on material. As colour drains from antique fabric or coloured crystals over periods of exposure to sunlight, age becomes conspicuous as interior objects react sensitively to external phenomena. This understanding of time as cumulative or dematerialising supports the geological process of stratification as the formation of memory in landscape.
Bodily memory, whether psychological or corporeal is built similarly through accumulation of experience. The silk and satin textiles Chiara and Vernet compulsively revisit either once held a body or feel catered to a sensory bodily experience. These sculptures degrade like bodies, too. In their fragmentation, Chiara’s crystals insist that once they were part of a whole that no longer exists, disembodied into ruins. Puffy and tired, her ribbons slump with the weight gravity gives them. Ruins are inextricable from architectural associations: one of Vernet’s castles collapses, another crumples and sags, while walls tumble from the miniature house with scarred, scratched surfaces. Despite their decay, architectural ruins persist, no longer qualifying as distinctly interior or exterior structure. Rather than resembling a threat to the anatomy of a building, an object, a landscape or a body, water damage becomes an indexical tool that might instead provide space for transformation.