Taleen Berberian, Clairvoyant Dementia, SEPT 2017

Each sex has a relation to madness. Every desire has a relation to madness. But it would seem that one desire has been taken as wisdom, moderation, truth, leaving to the other sex the weight of a madness that cannot be acknowledged or accommodated.

– Luce Irigary

You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her — wherever.
– someone hysterical

Auxiliary Projects is pleased to present “Clairvoyant Dementia,” a solo exhibition by Taleen Berberian, on view from Sept 30 through Nov 5, 2017.  There will be an opening reception on Saturday, Sept 30, from 6-8pm.

For the past 20 years Taleen Berberian has fused female illness, female fashion and female sexuality in a manner that aggressively defies squeamishness. In “Clairvoyant Dementia,” Berberian has created an immersive installation in which domestic surfaces and textures such as sewing pattern paper, silk, upholstery, and yarn, usually subservient to more durable structures, are reimagined and repurposed as architectural elements.

Filling every available space with fabric, installation, collage, and ceramic sculpture, Berberian uses familiar feminine points of reference that become fantastically distorted in what Armenian Weekly once described as “gynosurrrealism.” Shoes burst with genital-like forms, furniture is stained suggesting illness and decay, drawings ooze and bulge out into the third dimension, and clothes hangers suspend bodily appendages.

The gallery is filled by two ovoid fabric-walled rooms. Suggesting hospital curtains, pre-teen canopy beds, and boudoirs from the porn firm Cronenberg never made, the semi-sheer curtain walls sprout forms that evoke breasts, warts or cancer.  Inside the rooms are seating areas with soft chairs and pillows, creating what would be intimate space if the walls were not permeable. With these external and internal perspectives, Berberian weaves together visual relationships between the female body in both its cultural guises and its medical realities. For Berberian, these realities began with her mother’s untimely cancer death and continues for the artist as she lives with the BRCA positive gene for the same disease.  With references to a wide range of positive and negative female attributes–craft, fertility, nurturance, irrationality, hysteria, insanity, incontinence–Berberian orchestrates an environmental portrait of the biological life of women in culture.

Taleen Berberian’s life’s work, concerned with process rather than product, is not easily encapsulated, represented, or packaged. Her singular vision, beyond the usual conventions of media or format, comes from a way of living in the world and of arranging materials that sits on the razor’s edge between life and art.  Come and see.