Dames of the World: Rona Yefman and Davida Nemeroff at Annie Wharton LA
Artists Rona Yefman and Davida Nemeroff's exhibition, Shellfish
, is now showing at Annie Wharton Los Angeles
. Through disparate approaches to subjectivity, the artists have assembled a show that is both provocative and intimate.
Yefman features Shanghai Kate and Caitlin G., two female tattoo artists, at very different stages in their lives and careers. Through interviews, video, and photography, the artist proudly displays the relationships she has nurtured with her subjects while revealing a great deal about her own values and perceptions. In contrast, Davida Nemeroff's photos of shrouded statues and "fleeting moment(s) of 'real' life" instill viewers with a sense of hidden strength. The interplay between the works asks: What is power, what is time? And what, if anything, is permanent?
I caught up with Rona this past week to find out more.
Alex Foullon: This isn't the first time you show with Davida. What is it about her and her work that keeps you working together?
Rona Yefman: Davida and I met in grad school at Columbia in 2009. We came from very different parts of the world but our natural dialogue started immediately. It was based on mutual sources of inspirations, and on our understanding of photography as a subjective form of art, in which human beings deepen their understanding of themselves and of the world around them.
AF: Why Shellfish? Did the word inspire the work, or vice-versa?
RY: The title came out of the works and from an associative dialogue that we had. As Davida wrote, something happens "when mermaids swim freely and lions get stoned." The gaze of the characters, the photographers, or the Medusa can turn you into a stone. The stone lion sculptures at the zoo come alive through the photographer gaze; they have a wounded skin. The issues here are the unseen and time.
AF: What is it about Shanghai Kate and Caitlin G. that draws you to them?
RY: Shanghai Kate has been a pioneer female tattoo artist since 1971. She started when women weren't allow to tattoo or even to get tattoos. A student of the famous Sailor Jerry, she had to work much harder in order to enter this boys' club and to become part of the generation that made the tattoo culture as profound as it is today. Caitlin, on the other hand, is a young, unique soul––very talented, very isolated. She writes and draws her own diary-poetry on her body with a stick-and-poke technique. She doesn't really care about being "professional."
Sometimes it's hard to decide who is the experienced one and who is the innocent one. But they both have the kind of beauty and weight that I like, and through their own self and their narrative they become protagonists. I use photography, video, performance, text, prints, and craft, and I organize the space so you can define the characters but also accept them as a visual-abstract narrative. The work is a long process; these relationships become long-term friendships.
AF: How has your work evolved over the course of your relationships with Kate and Caitlin?
RY: I've learned many things and I feel less "lost in translation." I believe it's through people and relationships that you can relate to the time and the place you are in.
Experience the work through June 29, 2012.
ANNIE WHARTON LOS ANGELES
Pacific Design Center
8687 Melrose Ave, Suite b275
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Annie Wharton Los Angeles