Stefanie Victor (b. 1982, New York) explores gesture and form as it relates to her affective experience with domestic objects, space, time, and studio processes through six different types of works installed in subtle spatial rhythms. In doing so, Victor investigates the capacity for discrete elements to collectively map a kind of language of private experience.
Small in scale and carefully adapted to the space they occupy, the sculptures relate to the body and its movements, as well as interior infrastructure and hardware in Victor’s apartment. Made from a range of raw materials including cement, glass, metal, and clay, their forms often belie their materiality. Rather than hard and still, they conjure the possibility of pliancy or activation. Recurring, shifting, and singular elements suggesting and disrupting pattern, reference the repetition of commonplace elements such as hinges, decorative moulding, and electrical cords. But the sculptures’ abstract qualities, unusual relationships to the wall, unexpected details, slight variations, and imperfections borne from hand-made processes shift the work away from the mechanized and familiar and towards more particular, human kinds of forms.
The works are a distillation of time spent in the studio turning, bending, moving, shaping, pushing, and folding. Accrued gestures from routine domestic movements such as closing a door, drawer or window, opening the blinds, turning on the lights, or plugging and unplugging cords, surround and find expression in her practice and this work. The sculptures quietly imply their own abstract uses, and gesture back to unseen movements as once malleable materials formed and re-formed by hands now absent.
Victor's sculptures speak directly to the body and the senses of sight and touch in particular, their radiating forms invoke joints, sockets, and axes of motion. At once mechanistic and organic, Victor’s elegant, small-scale sculptures engage the languages of Minimalism and Geometric Abstraction while achieving a specificity of place and sentiment. The forms she creates can be understood through their carefully chosen materials, structure, scale, and modes of display. They reference jewelry, hardware, and everyday objects, inviting a nuanced visual experience that extends across multiple categories and expectations. The works exist in a liminal state where neither function nor identity is rigid. Rather, the sculptures serve as quiet monuments to private experience and the work of the studio — the artist's hands twisting, folding, bending, forming, and shaping materials.
This body of work responds loosely to Hands, a black and white film by Romanian artist Geta Brătescu that documents the hands of the artist engaged in a range of activities and movements — smoking a cigarette, tracing lines on her hands, touching the borders of a sheet of paper and then crumpling it up. Filmed from above, the artist’s hands, disembodied, perform a variety of gestures or tasks across the table which becomes the stage for theatricality, imagination, and play. The simple gestures quickly become transgressive in their proposition of using whatever is at one’s disposal — the body and everyday objects, in this case — to make art. Her movements, scripted and precise, become radical and provocative through their ambiguous meanings. Throughout the film, Brătescu’s hands are at once the subject and the agent of her work.
As in Brătescu’s film, Victor’s artistic practice prioritizes intimacy and incorporates the confines of the body, studio, and home to create meaning that perhaps exists in private, performed and made for no one but the artist herself. Tube and dome shapes allude to the corporeal while simultaneously offering entry points and portals for fingers and eyes. Links and strings in some works suggest movement, play, and an invitation to touch despite their silence and stasis as sculptures. The series of wall-mounted sculptures Untitled (eyes for Geta) suggests human eyes as much as keyholes, industrial buttons, cameras, plugs, or more abstract metaphysical portals. These shapes deliberately embody contradictions: they look functional but are essentially ornamental. They are inert, but seem to observe. From a distance, they can appear mysterious or even menacing, but their scale and particularity invite intimacy. They resemble the industrial, and yet each is quite different — textured, imperfect, and handmade. As abstract objects, they play with our perception of space and depth through subtle relationships between surface and void, convexity and concavity, color and its absence.
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Stefanie Victor (b. 1982) lives and works in Queens, New York. She earned a MFA in painting from Yale School of Art in 2009, and a BFA in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004. Her work has been included in exhibitions at MoMA PS1, New York; Participant, Inc, New York; and the Drawing Center, New York, among others.