Sydney Shen

February 8 - 11, 2018
Frontón Mexico, Mexico City

Motel is pleased to announce a solo presentation by Sydney Shen at Material Art Fair, February 8 - 11, Frontón Mexico, Mexico City.

For her presentation with the gallery, Shen has created a tableau of a traditional Shaker peg rail; identical dowels in succession, inlaid into wooden molding, which are commonly used for the modular storage of furniture and other household items. In lieu of chairs, Shen mounts a series of sculptural works to this scaffolding, which situates them as prop-like objects stored for potential use.

A piece of silk hangs on a drying rung. Printed on its surface a radial diagram conflates two disparate forms of knowing: a bone sorting chart, used for the identification of rodent remains extracted from owl pellets, with a Bagua map, a Chinese Taoist cosmological tool most often associated with Feng Shui and the eponymous martial art. This comparison relates morphological understandings of animal life cycles and behavior with that of humans and our understanding of agency and destiny through eschatological and taxonomical chaos.

A series of velvet-flocked 3D-printed fly swatters hang from the adjacent pegs, their surfaces etched with hand-drawn images and text in Latin, Italian, and English; these phrases are borrowed from Catholic prayer, lyrics from murderous Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo’s madrigals, and copy from an online Halloween prop store. Whether culled from mythic, arcane, or low-brow origins, these overwrought expressions of suffering share an angsty sentimentality that underscores human experience. Essentially a flogging device used for pest control, the flyswatter appeals to self-flagellation, a repentance ritual that evokes the Dark Ages and is still practiced for religious reason or otherwise. Shen examines these acts of violence as they relate to wellness and discipline as a path to transcending a mere mortal existence.

Beneath this arrangement, a group of emesis basins&emdash;kidney shaped dishes used to collect medical waste&emdash;flank the wall. Filled with an alchemical brew of objects steeping in loose leaf botanical tea, these abject mixtures confuse notions of sterility and filth as they relate to our understanding of body, mind and spirit.

Sydney Shen (b.1989) lives and works in New York and studied at The Cooper Union. Solo exhibitions include Springsteen, Baltimore; Interstate Projects, Brooklyn; Motel, Brooklyn; Holy Motors, Hong Kong; Roberta Pelan, Toronto.

Select recent group exhibitions include Aike-Dellarco, Shanghai; Minibar, Stockholm; Weekends, London; Hester, New York; Springsteen, Baltimore; Fused Space, San Francisco; Derek Eller Gallery, New York; Et Al, San Francisco; American Medium, Brooklyn; and Sydney, Sydney. Shen is co-author of Perfume Area, a book of prose published by Ambient Works, New York. Forthcoming projects include Gesualda.