Isthmus at The Mistake Room Los Angeles
Isthmus is an immersive experimental project by Iraqi-born, Los Angeles-based artist Susu Attar. This exhibition marks Attar’s first institutional solo show in LA. Attar’s practice explores the ways images of embodied subjects circulate in a media saturated world and how this digitized circulation impacts the meaning-making potential of pictures. For this project Attar takes media images from within contexts of violence and turmoil, and re-positions the corporeal forms that emerge from these moments through the language of painting. Using the gallery space as a kind of inhabitable plane or atmospheric terrain, Attar paints these bodies, isolated, on draping scrolls that are sited throughout the space—as if floating between air, water, and land. The human-scale figures spill off of the walls into the space of the viewer and onto the floor, placing the painted bodies and our bodies in a constantly shifting relationship. Pointing to the isthmus as liminal space between two worlds, the installation challenges the boundaries between photography and painting. Ultimately, throughout the various manifestations of her work, Attar leads us on a search for moments of empathy and transformation. In our role as viewers, we are engaged in a meditation on the fundamental importance of bearing witness, the work of art (its status as object and action), and the hope that lies in the transformative potential of the artistic gesture.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Attar staged a performance developed in collaboration with guest musicians Sandra Lawson-Ndu and Sheila Govindarajan. Engaging with the works in the exhibition through sound and movement, the performance layers time, sound, movement, and objects into a collective experience of loss and catharsis.
Sandra Lawson-Ndu is a Nigerian American musician currently based in Oakland CA. As a vocalist and songwriter, she has contributed to and collaborated on a number of live and recorded projects including works with DJ Center ( Everything in Time LP) and Nomadic Wax (Diaspora Mix Tape Volume 2), and the "Sorry To Bother You" soundtrack, Currently she is co-leading the band Bells Atlas, who in addition to working on their own music, write original music for the WNYC Snap Judgement tour. She’ll be releasing her solo material, titled Chew FuFu, in 2019.
Sheila Govindarajan is an LA-based artist whose music reflects the multiplicity and richness of the worlds and times she travels. Growing up in a traditional South Indian family, Sheila has developed a style that synthesizes her deep roots with the beats, breaks, and rhythms of her polysonic LA upbringing. Singing in multiple languages and even a language of her own she calls in the flow within lines of improvisation and respect to all the elements.