Tamar Ettun
September 19 - October 28, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 19, 6-8pm

Alula: the process of a bird’s wing corresponding to the thumb and bearing a few short quills — called also bastard wing. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2015.
Fridman Gallery is pleased to present Alula In Blue, Tamar Ettun’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, incorporating sculpture, performative installation and video. This new body of work centers on expressing primal empathy, a bodily impulse beyond or before intellectualization.

Ettun’s sculptures and performances reflect her vision of movement and stillness, temporality and permanence. Working to invert this duality, Ettun creates durational performances that incorporate stillness, and sculptures that capture gestural movements. Each gesture is suspended. Each object performs a task: an immense inflatable bubble is squashed between the gallery’s columns; a series of limbs grip found objects, creating horizontal totems.

The duality present in Ettun’s practice – movement/stillness, functionality/abstractness – applies to relationships between objects and movers, and between the viewer and the work. Mirror neurons are said to be responsible for empathy; we are capable of feeling another’s suffering so viscerally, that it becomes our own. “I see stillness as an expression of trauma that is repetitive and unchangeable. Trauma damages the ability of an individual to feel empathy towards the other.” When movement replaces stillness, and objects acquire new meanings, viewers are enticed to empathize with the work as a metaphor for the world at large. Like a bird’s alula lifting its flight, interaction with Ettun’s installations and performances elevates our spirit.

Ettun’s works are a formal investigation of materials and the visceral world. She breaks apart and assembles objects that normally would not combine, thereby creating unique and transformative pieces that evoke abstracted narratives. Ettun sources discarded commodities that have specific functional use and constructs new assemblages, stripping the original objects of their familiar meanings. The resulting sculptures resemble futuristic creatures that have evolved organically and bonded like groups of dancers or lines of poetry.

The video featured in the exhibition is the first part (Blue) of a video and performance tetralogy – Mauve Bird with Yellow Teeth Red Feathers Green Feet and a Rose Belly – choreographed by the artist and performed with the members of The Moving Company, the performance group she founded in 2013. A new installment will premiere each year until the completion of the project in 2018. Each part will be based on a color and an emotion – Blue/empathy, Pink/aggression, Yellow/desire, Orange/joy – and will incorporate an abstracted narrative of absurd physical tasks performed by movers interacting with objects.

A catalog, with essays by Steven Madoff, Claire Barliant and Natasha Marie Llorens accompany the exhibition

Mauve Bird with Yellow Teeth Red Feathers Green Feet and a Rose Belly, Part one : BLUE from Tamar Ettun on Vimeo.

images by Matt Grubb and Paula Elena Abreu Pita