Doing life

Doing life: D/Innertime, 2012, fabric printed with artist's image and artist's daughter Laura

Doing life: D/Innertime_2012, fabric printed with artist's image performed by artist's daughter Laura

Doing Life

Doing Life_2012, exterior view

Doing Life

Doing Life_2012, exterior view

Doing Life

Doing Life_2012, exterior view

Doing Life

Doing Life_2012, general view

Doing life: the making of us, 2012, 80 cm diameter, black clay, leather, paracord rope

Doing life: The making of us_2012, 80 cm diameter, black clay, leather, paracord rope

General view ofDoing life installation main exhibition space 2 on left: By way of controlling uncontrollable forces, 2012, Printed silk (thanks to Miroglio Textile)

General view of Doing life installation_2012 main exhibition space 2 on left: By way of controlling uncontrollable forces_2012, printed silk

By way of controlling uncontrollable forces_2012, 100 m, printed silk

Main wall installation in exhibition space 2 of Doing life, 2012

Main wall installation in exhibition space 2 of Doing life_2012

Doing life: Laura, the throbbing pink spot, and the mysterious yellow light, 2012, 90x60cm Cut photograph, pink paint

Laura, the throbbing pink spot, and the mysterious yellow light_2012, 90x60 cm, cut photograph, pink paint

Doing life: by way of pressed Queen Anneís Lace, 2012, (10 x 15) pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: By way of pressed Queen Anne's Lace_2012, 10x15 cm, pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Dyptich: Doing life: By way of 500 generations of stretched bellybuttons, 2012, 75 x 50 (left) Viennese caning, wood

Doing life: By way of 500 generations of stretched bellybuttons (diptych)_2012, 75x50 cm and 22x 5 cm, Viennese caning and photograph from 2000

Doing life: A mother's mother's mother, 2012, (50,5x50,5) (right) Sourdough, plastic,glass, and brass Doing life: A mother's father's mother, 2012, (50,5x50,5) (left) Sourdough, plastic,glass, and brass Doing life: By way of pressed white salvia, 2012, (25x25) (top right) Pressed flowers, spray paint, glass

A mother's mother's mother_2012, 50,5x50,5 cm, (right), sourdough, plastic, glass, and brass Doing life: A mother's father's mother_2012, 50,5x50,5 cm, (left), sourdough, plastic, glass, and brass Doing life: By way of pressed white salvia_2012, 25 x25 cm, (top right) Pressed flowers, spray paint, glass

Doing life: By way of total withdrawl, 2012, diam 35cm Wound cut photograph

By way of total withdrawl_2012, diameter 35 cm, wound cut photograph

Doing life: by way of pressed white salvia, 2012, (25 x 25) pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: By way of pressed white salvia_2012, 25x25 cm, pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: Maggie here (Maggie there), 2012, 270x127 cm,mounted photograph dissolved with household products

Doing life: Maggie here (Maggie there)_2012, 270x127 cm,mounted photograph dissolved with household products

General view of Doing life installation main exhibition space 1 on right: By way of organized emptyness, 2012, Printed cotton

General view of Doing life installation_2012, main exhibition space 1. On right: By way of organized emptiness_2012, printed cotton

By way of organized emptiness_2012, printed sifflot cotton

Doing life: Maggie here(maggie there) 2012, 270cm x127cm, cut-out photograph

Doing life: Maggie here (Maggie there)_2012, 270x127 cm, cut-out photograph

Doing life: Laura in the dark, 2012, 40cm x 60cm, photo with dissolved emulsion

Doing life: Laura in the dark_2012, 40x60 cm, photo with dissolved emulsion

Doing life: Making sense of all the dead people, 2012, 50 x 75cm Cut photograph

Doing life: Making sense of all the dead people_2012, 50x75 cm, cut photograph

Doing life: Doing life: a rainy day transfiguration of Laura, 2012, 114x174 cm, (left) four layers of cut-out photographs Doing life: Laura unraveling, with style, 2012, 160x60 cm, (right) shredded photograph, plexiglass Doing life: by way of pressed broom grass, 2012, 20x30 cm (top left) broom grass, spray paint, glass, tape

A rainy day transfiguration of Laura_2012, 114x174 cm, four layers of cut-out photographs. Laura unraveling with style_2012, 160x60 cm, shredded photograph, plexiglass. By way of pressed broom grass_2012, 20x30 cm (top left), broom grass, spray paint, glass, tape

Doing life: By way of pressed broom grass, 2012, (20 x 30cm) Broom grass, spray paint, glass, tape

Doing life: By way of pressed broomgrass_2012, 30x20 cm, broomgrass, spray paint, glass, tape

Doing life: Laura unraveling, with style, 2012, (160x60cm) (right) Shredded photograph, plexiglass

Laura unraveling, with style_2012, 114x174 cm, shredded photograph, plexiglass

Laura unraveling, with style_2012, 160x60 cm

Laura unraveling, with style_2012, 160x60 cm, photo cut in to single, continuous, thread from bellybutton

Doing life: D/Innertime, 2012fabric printed with artist's image and artist's son Kiko

Doing life: D/Innertime_2012, fabric printed with artist's image performed by artist's son Kiko

Doing life: D/Innertime, 2012, fabric printed with artist's image and artist's mother

Doing life: D/Innertime_2012, fabric printed with artist's image performed by artist's mother

Doing life: by way of pressed love grass, 2012, (10 x 15) pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: By way of pressed love grass_2012, 10x15 cm, pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: by way of pressed pink Queen Anneís lace, 2012, (15 x 10) pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: By way of pressed pink Queen Anneís lace_2012, 15x10 cm, pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: by way of pressed apache plumes, 2012, (10 x 15) pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: By way of pressed apache plumes_2012, 10x15 cm, pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: by may of pressed lavander, 2012 (18x12) pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: By way of pressed lavender_2012, 18x12 cm, pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: by way of pressed pressed alyssium, 2012, (10 x 15) pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: By way of pressed pressed alyssium_2012, 10x15 cm, pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: by way of pressed leopard lilies, 2012, (10 x 15) pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: By way of pressed leopard lilies_2012, 10x15 cm, pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: by way of pressed pink larkspur , 2012, (12 x 18) pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: By way of pressed pink larkspur_2012, 12x18 cm, pressed flowers, glass, spray paint

Doing life: Birthday flowers, at 13 and 50, 2012, video (8 minute loop)

Birthday flowers, at 50 and 13_2012, video (8 minute loop)

Doing life_2012

white heavy head, 2000, 30cm diameter cut photographs and string

White heavy head_2000, 30 diameter, cut photographs and string

The exhibition title, Doing Life, points to the conceptual underpinnings of Cardelus’s work, work in which her everyday experience as woman, artist, and mother, give origin to an ongoing investigation that probes the dynamics of these shifting roles within the social fabric in which it is immersed.

The use of photographs, in particular family snapshots, takes Cardelus into territory that is both profoundly individual and universally shared. Snapshots are part of rituals that have become familiar to all cultures, and are vehicles by which a family nucleus constructs it’s own micro-history, and, as Diane Arbus wrote, constitute, “..a secret of a secret…,” a sort of idealized self portrait.

The use of such reactive material on the part of the artist, is to reclaim that which Allan Kaprow defined as art at the service of life. In Maggie Cardelus’s work, the domestic/familial sphere, marginalized by the art-world, is placed powerfully at the center of her artistic thinking. Her personal world becomes the instrument through which to process our most common human fears and compulsions, like the passing of time, or our fear of loss or separation.

To materially manipulate family snapshots, is for Cardelus, an attempt to crystallize a flux or flow undergoing continuous change. In Doing Life, these opposing tensions echo through an ensemble of works that, together, pull towards the figure of the artist as a single, mutating, self-portrait.

The entire exhibition is organized around an invisible horizon line that cuts through the space at the height of Cardelus’s bellybutton, creating an esoteric landscape whose gravitational force is the the artist’s subjectivity.

In the two large spaces of the gallery, hang two halves of a split, back-lit, enlarged snapshot taken of the artist. One half is meticulously cut-out, while the other has been dissolved and transformed using domestic cleaning fluids like bleach, alcohol, and silver-polish. The tension between programmed order and loss of control recurs in all the work in the exhibition, and is set on stage with the performance D/Innertime, in which Maggie Cardelus’s three children, literally dressed un in their mother’s body, impersonate her and respond to spectators. In this work, as in all the work, for every centripetal and self-referential move, there is a corresponding centrifugal one, in which the artist’s ego dissolves into a potentially infinite number of representations.

The theme of artistic creation, in this context, merges with creation understood as demiurgic, as creator of life. A ceramic sculpture, hanging from the ceiling, modeled by the repetitive squeezing of clay between thumb and index, embodies that duality between nature and culture: the artists’ thumbprints takes us to the very beginnings of human control over matter, matter both organic and out of control.

The very title of the exhibition is nuanced: Doing Life refers to both the artistic act, the generation of life, and to a narrative, more or less mystified, of her own existence. At the same time, it is also an attempt to appropriate reality, include everyone and everything within one’s own small universe.

Chiara Repetto