Jessica Frelinghuysen’s work may seem absurd, but the behaviors she highlights in the daily acts of communication are stranger. Using listening devices as architecture, uniforms as personalized wardrobe and screens as body language, the works of Frelinghuysen show the difficulties in immediately facing one another amongst the many layers of removal from communication in a secluded environment. In Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams: works in progress from Jessica Frelinghuysen at Cave Gallery, Frelinghuysen shows loose drawings as well as her scrupulous research practice of parodying the removal from communication in daily life.
A number of drawings (figs. 1 and 2) for unrealized projects hang on the walls of the gallery in a continuation of Frelinghuysen’s making public private desires. The arrangement of the drawings appears scattered on the walls with a couple framed that feature bubble-like nodes connected by feed. A few of the drawings show plans for Frelinghuysen’s architectural interventions and include a portable seat where someone may hide in public. Whereas Frelinghuysen’s projects combine tightly woven layers of design with research conducted in public, the drawings appear methodologically disoriented. As with many art practices, exhibitions show a part of a process that often does not include the many drawings and statements included in proposals. The exhibition of Frelinghuysen’s drawings shows an auto-acceptance of the daily life of working as an artist and, as such, gives her greater discretion to decide the constitution of the work.
figures 1 and 2
drawings in Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams, 2008 – 2013
gouache on paper
The larger works in Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams find projections of various body parts in situations that parody communication at gatherings. In Elbow Room, 2006 (fig. 3), for instance, three elbows of different actors aggressively try to push one another out of the frame. Inside the frame is a domestic interior with a rocking chair. The elbows wrestle until only one elbow is left in the room. Seeing the literal translation of “sharp elbows” reminds of the nonsensical games of domination played in some meetings. In Imported, 2013 (figs. 4 and 5), a nose rubbing against a glass pane projects in the bottom of a cigar box on the middle of a circular table covered with a purple table cloth. Sounds of gibberish come from speakers underneath the table. The nose appears as an odorless replacement for the cigars with a lasting laugh. In Hello, 2008 – 2010 (figs. 6 – 8), multiple channels of mouths saying “hello” project onto a circular screen at the large end of a cone. At the opposite end are two speakers playing a cacophony of each mouth saying “hello.” Looking into the cone and listening to the greetings has the simultaneous effect of isolating the rest of the gallery from view. Each of the works turns literal references to the body into metaphors for failure in communication.
Elbow Room, 2006
figures 4 and 5
figures 6 - 8
Hello!, 2008 – 2010
Frelinghuysen’s work seems closely related to the work of Krzysztof Wodiczko and Michael Rakowitz by showing community changing with each architectural response to the environment. The scale of Frelinghuysen’s work appears different, however, in the many ways her works are designed for private gazes in public. The hidden gaze in Frelinghuysen’s work tells of the seclusion felt in public by the inability to communicate beyond one’s own understanding and the desire to feel sociable. The body becomes a site for developing alternate languages in the failure to communicate while making literal references to the body. Frelinghuysen offers a view of the isolation imposed by acts of daily conformity by confronting the aggressive tendencies of marketing to colonize the act of communication.