Reciter son corps
September 10 – October 21
I am a spider’s web of nerves exactly resembling the drawings of the anatomy texts. You say m/y beloved that you can see right through m/e … I am touched in m/y brachial nerves m/y circumflexes m/y ulnars m/y radials m/y terminal branches. –Monique Wittig, Les Corps Lesbien
Reciter son corps explores fragmentation, sensuality, and states of becoming through work that relies on touch, time, and closeness to give it form. Abbey Muza’s large-scale weavings and intimately scaled text drawings are both rigorously researched inquiries into queer archives and language, as well as deft and intricate compositions where material, image, and concept shift and collapse together.
In Muza’s woven textiles, which hang like curtains drawn across unseen thresholds, fragmented images of the artist’s body insert themselves and interrupt the structure of the weave. Pointillist in essence, relying on density of color to give shape to image and pattern, these weavings exist in a state of permanent tension, examining what it means to order and assemble parts (i.e., thread into thread into thread) which are subsumed, instantly, into the larger whole (the woven surface). As Muza builds with thread, they also dismantle a sense of order and a hierarchy of looking, disrupting expectations of legibility in favor of an expansive visual language, unfolding through abstraction.
As a touchstone and companion to Muza’s work, the experimental novel “Les Corps Lesbien” (1973) by French feminist theorist Monique Wittig, demonstrates a fragmented and nonlinear approach to language which Muza cites both directly and in essence, through their own work. Wittig’s text hovers between form: a lyrical address to a lover; a manifesto of body and pleasure; an undoing of masculine language, fracturing and reimagining written subjecthood. There is a deliberate incoherence throughout the text that explores language’s ability to break apart and transform ideological structures, embracing fluidity and a sense of productive disorder.
The pink flowers of the heather are visible in the spaces between your bones and all around you.
In their new series of text-based drawings, culled from Wittig’s novel, Muza similarly explores fluidity of form and a degree of illegibility as a means of locating a sensual, material understanding of text. The evenly spaced lines that compose the works belie a simplicity and invite the expectation of order and linearity. Yet the tactility of individual letters, comprising the words depicted, is brought into focus as Muza rigorously builds layers of colored pencil as if working every mark past the surface of the paper and into the fibers. The paper, in turn, develops a faint haze, a fuzz like soft hair, pulling its materiality closer to that of cloth. Here, words become texture, color, and light, dismantled and reassembled as pieces that draw us near, their material qualities serving as re-examination of their measure.
I see the sun shining between your ribs. The sky of an intense blue is also visible in certain intervals of their arrangement.
The narrator of Wittig’s text paints scenes of queer bodies and their desires, in terms both tender and violent. Their lover’s body is dismantled, strewn apart, reassembled. The text speaks to the body’s insides, its bones and arteries, tendons and cavities, laid bare, unspooling like thread. It hovers between form, embracing the pleasures of queerness, ungovernable bodies, treating language as with a similar freedom—and forceful insistence on reimagining how it might operate on and for us; and it is here in which we might, similarly, locate Muza’s practice. Their attention to language, archive, and history of craft, merges with an abiding belief in haptic, sensual exploration of both material and content. Words are explored like soft and tangible matter. This materiality of language—letters woven together like threads—in conversation with Muza’s woven textiles, builds a complex view of bodies and words, aligned with each other as forever coming into being; mutable and expansive, and intensely real.
Bio: Abbey Muza uses weaving as a methodology to explore narration, identity, image-making, and abstraction. They have been an artist in residence at ACRE and Alternative Worksite, and have been a Fulbright France Harriet-Hale Wooley Awardee, a Leroy Neiman Fellow at the Oxbow School of Art, and a visiting artist at the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. They have shown their work at spaces including Tusk, Temple Contemporary, and the Fondation des États Unis. They have a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the Tyler School of Art and