This is the first in a series of posts on the artists in our upcoming New Roots exhibition, which opens on July 28.
Deborah Anzinger has exhibited her work at the District of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC), Arlington Art Center (AAC), George Mason University, Civilian Art Projects, Hillyer Art Space, Delicious Spectacle, Porch Projects, Corcoran Gallery of Art with Transformer Gallery, and National Gallery of Jamaica. She recently co-curated with Chajana DenHarder Intimate Encounters, a solo exhibition of work by Marlon James at New Local Space (NLS), Kingston; and Loose Ends, an exhibition of work by Chandi Kelley, Chajana DenHarder, Matt Smith, Joseph Hale and Dafna Steinberg at DCAC. She has written for ARC Magazine and Caribbean Beat; and sat on panels for San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, DCAC and AAC. She is founding director of the non-profit visual art initiative NLS that creates a more connected global network where unconventional art, ideas and artists are accessed openly through artist residencies, exhibitions and conversation series. Deborah received her PhD in Immunology and Microbiology in 2005 from Rush Medical Center, Chicago.
Banality and wildness juxtaposed through automated abstraction, these works are collisions of digital media, text and physical experience with material. Through my work I contemplate using the structure of pre-existing systems as a tool for breaking these same systems apart – thereby making space within them for freer ways of looking and being. My works are surreal artefacts of this contemplative process that examine psychological fragility and the desire for transcendence and existential freedom. For the last few years, fractured mirrors have reappeared in my work as a device and conceit for orienting and disorienting oneself in the present. Recently influenced by the surrealist literary work The Palace of the Peacock by Wilson Harris, this current work expands on mirroring and fracturing as it relates to notions of proliferating imagery, substance and ideology: The works physically reflect fragments of a lived environment while situating these fragments into a new, liminal space created out of play. The works chart the movement of discrete elements from passive discourse with each other into active intercourse and then into limitless proliferation – a potential metaphor for the actualization of a new beginning.
Deborah Anzinger’s work is equal parts exciting and challenging. On the one hand, play is central to her practice and aesthetic; giving the work a welcoming freshness, spontaneity and sense of lightness. On the other hand, Anzinger’s long and deep engagement with contemporary art movements across the world and her familiarity with critical theory and science mean that she draws on such a rich field of reference that the work can seem infinitely layered, almost esoteric. This is of course the beauty of Deborah’s work, as this space of tension is her fascination and the fuel that drives her practice and output. For her, play is serious and she invites the audience to shed their inhibitions and join in this most sophisticated of play dates.
Though she has an impressive exhibition history abroad, Deborah’s work is less well known in Jamaica. This is particularly the case for her recent work which is more abstract. Her influences include pop art, of the kind made by Ed Paschke and John Baldessari, the work of artist collective Das Institut (Adele Röder and Kerstin Bratsch) and the work of Guyanese author Wilson Harris. This particular body of work looks at systems of symbols and the importance with which we invest them. A series of recurring images (referencing primal concepts such as breast feeding, facial recognition in infants, and the mirror stage of subject development) can be found throughout the installation in varying formations and relationships to each other. Audience members are invited to contribute with their own configurations generated by their own associations and systems of knowing.
For more on Deborah Anzinger’s work, please see: http://www.deborahanzinger.com/