The Finger Is Also Pressed By The Stone
Kate Hampel and Soo Shin
Binaries are useful. They provide structure, they help us say firmly, “This is this and that is that.” They simplify a world that is chaotic, obscure, and largely unchartable. Paying attention to such clean, definitive lines allows us to put on socks and shoes in the morning, to live our orderly lives.
The cost of wearing shoes, though, is not knowing the feeling of the ground under one’s feet. The heavy cost of certainty is flatness. To be positioned too definitely in pragmatic order is to miss the richly indeterminate space where “this” and “that” become question marks, pulses, flows. This gray area, where multiple gravities compete, is a conceptual staging ground for Kate Hampel and Soo Shin.
In their work, both artists suggest body as the foreground where the dynamics of power, seeing/being seen, and knowing/not-knowing is constantly challenged. These works are at home in a day-to-day world of indeterminacy. They invite the viewer to move around them to look at and consider them, and to slowly walk into the borderless landscape that they engender. The finger is also pressed by the stone is a space of ambiguity where the rough, textured surface of the ground can be truly felt.
Kate Hampel examines the aesthetics of violence, from the individual to the institutional. Her current projects draw material from geopolitical power struggles, with all their attendant implications for the gendered or othered body, as well as from sensationalized narratives. Text works, sculpture and installations speak with multiple voices and implicate the viewer through their presence in the space.
Soo Shin (b.1981, based in Chicago) investigates the psychological experience of uncertainty and vulnerability in our search for certainty and translates these into bodily experiences. In her work, the idea of uncertainty has been emphasized as a potential space for new understanding and acuity. Her work provides physical space for the body and is presented as physical conditions for viewers. By suggesting work as a mixture of internal and physical experiences, she explores body as an abstract agency where objectivity and subjectivity is inseparable.
The viewer’s own physicality has a presence in the show, reflected in textures and activated by scale. These gestures are deliberate on both artists’ parts—for Hampel, as an examination and undermining of contemporary understandings of the gendered body, while for Shin the body serves as a locus for internalized struggle.