Xaviera Simmons
December 2, 2013 - January 31, 2014

David Castillo Gallery is proud to present Open, a solo exhibition by Xaviera Simmons in photography and sculpture.


If the medium is the message, what bodies speak its language? How does it translate across experiences, memories, and histories? Simmons is engaged with a rigorous studio practice that encompasses photography, performance, installation, sculpture and video works. The works inOpen present the richness of medium specificity.  Xaviera Simmons sets the terrestrial in dialogue with immaterial labor. Open is at once an ever evolving archive and a composite landscape that necessitates traversing and strict attention to detail. This exhibition is the first large-scale installation of Simmons’ ongoing Index series, photographic works whose core are found in the language of the sculptural.  These works, along with the artist’s text based sculptural works have a cinematic affect inside gallery walls. The exhibition rests on the dimension of time, rethinking presence and environment, the ephemeral and the performative.


Like the enactment of the Modern assembly line, the artist’s thematic landscapes engage contemporary materiality and ephemera. In the artist’s research, modes of image making, text and narrative construction, the archival thread and the performative are constantly and consistently redefined. The resulting artworks inhabit a dynamic site that challenges notions of artifact and embryo, subjectivity, cognition and cognitive capitalism. In Simmons’ landscapes, a palm frond and a red braid play garment to a torso. Skulls and picture frames look through each other. Woven masks beget other faces.


Image formation is described by Deleuze and Guattari as the exchange between orchid and wasp. Simmons’ studio practice is likewise a constant, emergent process of becoming between craft and experimentation and between harmony and disorder. The artist’s color, charismatic line and powerful composition do not perform authenticity, but rather reversibility, as Merleau-Ponty terms, between phenomena such as seeing and being seen or touching and being touched. Such nonpareils act upon each other to produce an experiential byproduct greater than that which they could generate alone.


Open is a practice of landscaping, whether text presented as object, object presented as narrative, narrative presented as body, or body presented as consciousness. It is a dynamic, indexical account of the pasts, presents, and futures of mental and physical landscapes as sweeping as Art History and memoir or as specific as the variable dimensions found between the photographic image as sculpture or the sculpture as photographic.  Simmons makes and remakes a horizon line, asking the viewer, like an orchid- or a wasp- to experience anew.


Simmons received her BFA from Bard College (2004) after spending two years on a walking pilgrimage retracing the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade with Buddhist Monks. She completed the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program in Studio Art (2005) while simultaneously completing a two-year actor-training conservatory with The Maggie Flanigan Studio. Simmons has exhibited nationally and internationally where major exhibitions and performances include: The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, The Studio Museum In Harlem, The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Public Art Fund, and The Sculpture Center.


Selected solo and group exhibitions for 2013-2014 include Archive As Impetus at The Museum Of Modern Art; Underscore at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum; Open at David Castillo Gallery;Rehearsals at The Savannah College Of Art and Design; and Radical Presence at The Studio Museum in Harlem among many others. Her works are in major museum and private collections including Deutsche Bank, UBS, The Guggenheim Museum, The Agnes Gund Art Collection, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Studio Museum in Harlem, MOCA Miami, and Perez Art Museum Miami.

Xaviera Simmons