Two Installations by Ydessa Hendeles
In a distinguished career as gallerist, collector and curator before she started to make her own works, Ydessa Hendeles has fashioned a distinctive space in the contemporary art world. Internationally renowned as a pioneering exponent of curating as a creative artistic practice, her groundbreaking work is widely discussed and embraced as a model by leading members of the new generation of curators emerging today. In her exhibition making and artistic practice, Hendeles often explores notions of difference and diversity, and especially the way representation and distortion, appropriation and assimilation can filter group and individual identities.
The Top Six Images: “From Her Wooden Sleep”, 2013, utilises display to create a narrative space where appearances and roles are distorted. A vast collection of pseudo-human wooden mannequins, each subtly unique in size and expression, is arranged within its own gallery. These figures seem to form a distinct community, and confronted by them the visitor is suddenly cast in the position of ‘outsider.’
Despite their human likeness, shared characteristics of the mannequins separate them as a group, and their collective stare isolates the visitor, transforming him or her from the observer to the observed, the guest to the interloper. This space of distorted roles and perceptions is enhanced by a series of funhouse mirrors that line the perimeter of the space, contorting the reflections of visitors and making direct reference to the untrustworthy nature of representation.
The Bottom Four Images: “Partners (The Teddy Bear Project)”, 2002, is a vast display comprising more than 3,000 family-album photographs of people posing with teddy bears, alongside display cases that contain antique stuffed animals. The installation adopts the toy as symbol for the consolatory and encouraging power of artworks, and highlights the relationship between people and their objects of affection.