The power of a fiber rests within the nature of its unitary value. The interconnectivity of fibers creates a whole, an object that comes into existence because of the unification of its parts. Memory, personhood, and identity are conflated with the materiality of our things- our fashions, our gadgets, the products we buy, the things we keep and the detritus we discard. Our sense of “being” can be discovered with a thorough examination of what we leave behind. What we value, things we remember, in the modern world, material culture is the conduit to the self. In the meticulously rendered textile and mixed media sculptures of the exhibition “With Every Fiber of My Being”, artist Amber Robles-Gordon destabilizes the power of the fiber in its familiar context of object-hood, by restructuring the parameters with which the viewers come to understand it; fibers and filaments transform into representations of a deeper sense of one’s personal memory and self-constituted identity.
The intentional fragmentation of an object conveys an act of disjuncture- a ripping apart, a shredding of, a tearing up- of familiarity, of stability, of normality. So, what happens when this disjuncture becomes a repetitive act of labor in self-rendering? Binaries explode. Polarization’s collide. Linear understandings of histories become a painterly, disjointed pointillism. Robles-Gordon destabilizes the specificity of our “stuff”- lace adorned dresses, rackets, worn t-shirts, beaded bracelets, badminton balls, etc.- and threads together a reformed sense of self through abstracted amalgamations of material culture. In Air, Water, and Earth. Layers of Self, Robles-Gordon’s mixed media sculpture reshapes disparate parts and fragments into lines of color that coalesce in a circular form. Principles of abstraction are still at play in this sculptural entanglement. Excised from objects disjoined from their past modalities, filaments function as undulating lines of color across the picture plane. Grid-like wires attempt to contain the rotund mass, creating a vivid, precarious sense of tension and fragility. It is in this moment of contained visual clutter and chaos, in which power is reassigned and the accepted meaning or constitution of object-hood is simultaneously bifurcated into its past and re-situated at the limen- a space of betweenness where agency flourishes and categories collapse.
The condition of the postmodern and millennial artist is also situated at the liminal space of particularity, where sampling and fragmentation meet at the axis of hybridity. Furthermore, contemporary practitioners like Egypt-born, New York-based Ghada Amer, as well as South African artists Nicholas Hlobo and Nandipha Mntambo, have taken to the act of immolating textiles and objects to reconstruct notions of gender, sexuality, and personal identity. Through tedious and laborious acts of puncture, stitching, and re-binding fragments, the artist could possibly regain control of representation and the deconstruction of self vis-à-vis the destruction of object-hood. In short, the artist can reconstitute the self through reassigning the meaning and function of parts of things ripped apart and ruptured. This new modality and materiality relies upon the vocabulary of fibers and filaments strung and threaded along to chart new spaces of visual memory and selfhood.Jessica N. Bell