Today I visited the Bushwick home of writer and editor Kristy Davis, whose apartment has been transformed into a magical space for mmm muse me, an installation of new and impressive work by artist Oliva Barr. When Kristy told me she was lending her apartment to her friend for Bushwick Open Studios this weekend, I envisioned her blocking off the back of the apartment so Olivia could exhibit in the front. But to my amazement, the entire railroad apartment is cleared of her furniture and belongings, and it didn't even occur to me until hours after I left, because I was so mesmerized by the show.
In the above photo and in a few below are pink silk hankies laser-etched with her grandfather's cursive love letters to her grandmother. Sigh. I noticed one was dated 1937. Her grandfather wrote on very thin paper, front and back, so as part of the process, she photographed the back-lit letters "so that the words on the back collapse to the front." The hankies, suspended by thread, dance in the breeze. Underneath the hankies are glass plates she also etched; these feature her most cherished sext messages with an ex, entire conversations, etched photos, even, stacked in piles so that when you look down at them, you see the top message clearly plus layers of history underneath. From one line below: "looked at your toys yesterday." I should mention it was 90 degrees in Bushwick today, before I arrived at this show. Olivia has on hand a narrow light strip that illuminates one plate at a time, so you can read the entire stack more clearly, if you wish. In the photo below, she's lighting up a bottom plate.
Two other incredible pieces are in a front room, and like these, they involve process, layers, the movement of light, and the passing of time. One is a small-scale interpretation of a plan for a large outdoor installation: three photos printed on transparent material, spliced horizontally, casting images on the wall where the sunlight filters through. The other is a glass plate printed with a photograph of a corner of her apartment. In this corner is a large piece of fabric (also exhibited, below) on which she traced over the course of a year the various shadows made by plants in the window. It's beautiful, and if you go visit, Olivia will give you a tour and a glass of white wine, and she will turn on large lamps and move them along floor over the work so you can see them transform.
mmm muse me, which was featured in the Bushwick Daily, will be open to the public from 12-7 pm tomorrow (Sunday), and it's at 1054 Willoughby Avenue.