The presence of absence at Satellite Contemporary’s ‘Foreign Bodies’ exhibit

Kristen Peterson

Tue, Nov 24, 2015 (7:21 p.m.)


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What stands out significantly in Foreign Bodies, a new show at Satellite Contemporary featuring work by co-owner Nicole Langille, is the presence and process of the artist.

Her imprint on the personal fabrication of works using residual materials from her studio is as strong as the aftermath of a semi-performative piece in which the artist stood on a stepladder and blew graphite onto a portion of the wall, leaving behind the prop, marks from the dust and a slender and shiny pile along the floor.

Langille’s art is physical. As someone who oscillates between drawing, painting, sculpture and performance, her sculptural works might resemble drawings, and her drawings have sculptural depth. In Foreign Bodies, the three-dimensional works can end at their individual borders or continue into the negative space of the white wall. Relying on the wall to be complete, the works—one of which is stapled directly to it—are delicate, even when conceptually forceful. Gravity and weight play into the exhibit, and the acknowledgment of Robert Morris and Eva Hesse is conscious.

Photo: Courtesy

Strips of latex on muslin are knotted into a net and tacked to the wall, a piece engineered to sag into itself. A dense “ribbon of latex,” created by pouring paint onto bubble wrap, hangs with heft from a horizontally placed cardboard tube suspended from thin muslin cords, with entropy playing a role. Her work, Langille says, has always been about the idea of the body, “this concept of the physicality of body in space and moving through space.”

In “with/without,” two rectangle shapes visually akin to one another hang side-by-side as two bodies, separated. A small piece installed at six feet, six inches is a memorial to a friend who committed suicide in September and stood at that height. Material is everything here.

Photo: Courtesy

That—and by association, process—has always maintained a privileged position in her work, Langille says. Since her undergraduate days in the sculpture program at Boston University, she’s been motivated by physicality, a tangible expression of presence and of the body. Her work comes out of mistakes and errors in the studio, leading to new ideas—a process that opens up a mercurial nature in her work.

Demonstrating entropy, failure, lack and delicacy, her art falls into what she describes as an imperfect perfect, the aesthetic of wabi-sabi. Or, as she sums up in an artist statement: “They conspicuously circumscribe a lack or void while being complete, circling a center of form and thought.”

Foreign Bodies Through December 11; Thursday-Sunday, 6-8 p.m. Satellite Contemporary inside Emergency Arts, 520 Fremont Street,