Christina P. Day: Stills and Composites: Curated by Cecilia Alemani

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OC TOBER 29 – DECEMBER 16, 2016



OC TOBER 29 – DECEMBER 16, 2016





Thomas G. Devine

Lynn Crawford

Theodore S. Berger Thomas K.Y. Hsu Vivian Kuan

Corina Larkin

Brian D. Starer

Gregory Amenoff, Emeritus


Corina Larkin Executive Director Beatrice Wolert-Weese Deputy Director

Polly Apfelbaum Katie Cercone Ian Cooper

Michelle Grabner Eleanor Heartney

Trenton Doyle Hancock Pablo Helguera Paddy Johnson Deborah Kass

Sharon Lockhart

Rossana Martinez Juan Sรกnchez

Irving Sandler

Shona Masarin-Hurst Programs Manager

Lilly Wei

Chase Martin Development Associate

Andrea Zittel


Roger White

CUE Art Foundation is a dynamic visual arts center dedicated to creating essential career and educational opportunities for emerging artists of

all ages. Through exhibitions, arts education, and public programs, CUE

provides artists and audiences with sustaining and meaningful experiences and resources.

CUE’s exhibition program aims to present new and exceptionally strong work by under-recognized and emerging artists based in the United States, and is committed to exhibiting work of all media, genres, and styles from artists of all ages.

This exhibition is a winning selection from the 2015-16 Open Call for Solo

Exhibitions. The proposal was unanimously selected by a jury comprised of

panelists Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art; Renaud Proch, Executive Director of Independent Curators

International (ICI); and Rujeko Hockley, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum. In line with CUE’s commitment to providing

substantive professional development opportunities, panelists also serve as mentors to the exhibiting artists, providing support throughout the process of developing the exhibition.



I am inspired by the poetry of time captured in found

In the found seat-cover vinyl of my floral Cascade (One’s

material, and in my work I multitask between drawing,

one and only), the disembodied audio of Playbacks #1-5,

drafting and building. I frequently return to “match

and the details of the deep inner and built views of The

finding”—literally, when patterns link into one another, or

light I’ll be (1983), I play with missing information, found

two walls join in a corner; and artistically, when two objects

material, and thorough construction. Matching materials

of the same make are found in different places at different

show up in more than one place, but on different sides to

times. I am interested in staging uncanny installations that

suggest that this is a body of work about the same place,

heighten a viewer’s sense of what may seem familiar, but is

but from different perspectives. People were here, but

distorted out of context.

are no longer, their coats checked into the cloakroom, eye-glasses left on the table. Walls become a metaphor for

In the exhibition space of CUE, I have built several pieces

place and memory, a perimeter with no center.

that reflect on video footage of an old family party. I have created work in response that is both architectural and

My architectural constructions and object pattern-plays are


centered on seams and junctures, offering perspectives that eclipse a view into a singular experience—the outcome

In 1983, my great aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding

understood and measured by the body as a view for one,

anniversary was captured on a home video camera that

one at a time. I seek to amplify the familiarity of a memory

someone parked in the corner of the dance floor of the

in my dimensional material play and larger construction

VFW hall where the party was held. Attendees repeatedly

work, using the edited and immaterial nature of film and

bumped into the camera, at times leaving it pointed at

photography as a building source.

the ceiling or at the back of someone’s head. The film is an unobstructed lapse of time when the camera was not recording anything in particular, capturing an evening that re-animates members of my family that have been gone for years.



Christina P. Day lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. She is an alumna of The University of the Arts (BFA, Crafts/ Fibers, 1999) and Cranbrook Academy of Art (MFA, Fiber, 2006). She has been a Resident Artist at Sculpture Space (2008), the Vermont Studio Center (2011), the Haystack Mountain School of Craft (2013) and Recycled Artist in Residency (2015). She is a former member of the

of Art (Baltimore, MD). Her work has been included in exhibitions at the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, the Hongik Museum of Art (Seoul, Korea), the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art (Collegeville, PA), NAPOLEON (Philadelphia, PA), the Artist-Run project at The Satellite Show Miami, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and the Woodmere Art Museum (Philadelphia, PA).

NAPOLEON artist collective of Philadelphia (2012-2016) and was a 2013 Knight Arts Challenge grant recipient and participant for CITYWIDE: A Collective Exhibition (2013). She teaches in the Crafts/Fiber Program at The University of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA) and is a Professor of Fiber at the Maryland Institute College



Materials vary greatly and are simply materials – formica,

In her large scale sculptural installations such as The light

aluminum, cold-rolled steel, Plexiglas, red and common

I’ll be (1983), Day looks at both the formal qualities of the

brass, and so forth. They are specific. If they are used

materials and at, as the artist puts it, the “poetry of time

directly, they are more specific. Also, they are usually

captured in found material.” Architectural components,

aggressive. There is an objectivity to the obdurate identity

like a wall, are no longer only structural constructions,

of a material. Also, of course, the qualities of materials – hard

but are also vehicles to convey memories and places long

mass, soft mass, thickness of 1/32, 1/16, 1/8 inch, pliability,

gone. By looking at her installations, viewers percieve a

slickness, translucency, dullness – have unobjective uses.

familiar place that is yet uncanny and hard to situate in


a determinate timeframe or place. In Day’s project for With these words Donald Judd characterized the nature

CUE, the wall becomes a membrane: it is no longer the

and function of materials adopted by Minimalism. They

boundary between in and out; it conflates them, flipping

are materials appropriated from the commercial world,

inside and outside and showing us what is usually invisible.

from the construction of buildings for instance. They are simple—not yet loaded with artistic implications. They

Day’s complex installations seem to also evoke a specific

are used in an abstract way. At the same time they are

temporality, which proceeds with ruptures and hiatuses

“specific” because they are taken from a particular non-art

instead of being linear. Similar to Gorgon Matta-Clark’s

field, and they are used purely within their own specific

practice of physically altering spaces and places, Day’s

characteristics, with no illusionistic aims. In a similar way,

artistic vocabularies challenge the sense of history and

Christina P. Day employs common construction materials

evoke a vertigo of displacement, both physical and

in her work, materials like two-by-fours, steel frames,

temporal. It is a matter of a temporal tension between

plexiglass, and carpet. While the choice of materials and

form and its deconstruction, between wholeness and

their treatment echoes a comparable use in Minimalism,

the fragment. Day’s works vacillate between inside and

Day differentiates her practice by constructing works that

outside: they are fragments of an architectural environment

mimic already existing architectural elements, building

that appear like slices cut out from buildings. Looking at

structures that long toward verisimilitude, toward an

these structures, it is difficult to say whether they are in the

exterior and real reference, even though in some ways they

process of being built, if they are the structural parts of a

still reveal traces of abstraction.

more complete work, or if they are what remains of an old family memory.



Cecilia Alemani is the Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art, the public art program presented by Friends of the High Line. She is also the curator of Frieze Projects, presented during the Frieze Art Fair in New York, and is the curator of the Italian Pavilion at the upcoming 2017 Venice Biennale. Previously, Alemani has collaborated with many museums, institutions, and foundations, while also pursuing more unconventional projects with non-profits and informal organizations. In 2011, Alemani worked as guest curator for the performance art biennial Performa 11. She is the co-founder of No Soul For Sale, a festival of independent spaces, non-profit organizations, and artist collectives which took place at X Initiative in June 2009 and at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in May 2010 as the main event for the museum’s tenth anniversary. From January 2009 to February 2010, she served as Curatorial Director of X Initiative, New York, a year-long experimental non-profit space in Chelsea, where she curated numerous

Generation Art Prize, a new prize for emerging artists established by the Viktor Pinchuk Foundation, Kiev. From 2007 to 2008, she served as Curator of Special Projects for Artissima, Turin, Italy. As an independent curator she organized numerous exhibitions in museums, non-profit spaces, and galleries including Glee (Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, 2011), The Comfort of Strangers (MoMA/PS1, New York, 2010), Solaris (Gió Marconi Gallery, Milan, 2009), ONLY CONNECT (Bloomberg Headquarters with Beyond Art in General, New York, 2008), boundLES (several venues in the Lower East Side, New York), and Things Fall Apart All Over Again (Artists Space, New York, 2005). Alemani has a BA in philosophy from the Università degli Studi in Milan (2001) and an MA in Curatorial Studies (2005) from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. She is a contributor to several art publications including Artforum, Domus Magazine, Mousse Magazine, Klat, Modern Painters, Art Press, October Magazine, and Flash Art.

exhibitions including solo shows by Keren Cytter, Luke Fowler, Hans Haacke, Christian Holstad, Derek Jarman, Mika Tajima, Tris Vonna-Michell, and Artur Zmijewski. At X Initiative she conceived and organized more than 50 events including performances, panel discussions, symposia, lectures, concerts, and screenings. Alemani also served as an advisor to the Venice International Film Festival, for the category Orizzonti, devoted to new tendencies in filmmaking, and she oversaw the organization of the Future

1 Donald Judd, “Specific Objects,” in Complete Writings 1959-1975: gallery reviews, book reviews, articles, letters to the editor, reports, statements, complaints (Halifax: The Press of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design 1975), 187.


Cascade (One’s one and only), 2016 Found seat cover vinyl (naturally aged), mono-filament, wood 24” x 28” x 1.75” Photo credit: Jaime Alvarez



Realistic Pocket Philosophy “Your brain is like a complex computer” “Victor Borge, live in concert, 3/14/95” “Let’s talk about ego” “If I have a candle that is lit” 2016 Mini cassette, duplicate (eBay) of original broken playback unit found at RAIR, found voice, vintage headphones, 17 minute loop run time 20” x 15” x 3” Photo credit: Jaime Alvarez



Outlook #9, 2009 Found object, photographic decal 1” in diameter x 0.5” thick Outlook # 13, 2006 Found object, photographic decal 3” x 1 1/2” x 1/2”




Shift #2 (selected views), 2014 Architectural Framework build-in, vintage wallpaper, trim, house paint, bead board 8.5’ x 6’ x 8’ Photo credit: Jaime Alvarez



Shift #2 (selected views), 2014 Architectural Framework build-in, vintage wallpaper, trim, house paint, bead board 8.5’ x 6’ x 8’ Photo credit: Jaime Alvarez


In So Much As This (selected views), 2009 Found doors, routed trim, custom built framework, house paint, hardware, wallpaper 77.5” x 31” x 35”




Untitled (Staircase), 2005 Found railing and post, wood, house paint 30’ x 29” x 58”


Bystander (selected views), 2006 Custom built architectural framework: found door, framework, paint, ceramic tiles, wallpaper and socket 77” x 36” x 40”




Day onsite during her residency at RAIR, Spring 2015 Photo courtesy of RAIR.


Film still (1983), home movie from the artist’s family archive.



The stain of love Is upon the world. Yellow, yellow, yellow… excerpt from “A Love Song” by William Carlos Williams Christina P. Day’s solo exhibition, Stills and Composites, is inspired by recently discovered video footage documenting her great aunt and uncle’s golden-wedding-anniversary celebration that took place at a VFW hall in 1983. The videotape has aged, causing the image to take on a distinct yellow hue. On the evening of the party, a camera was set up and left unmanned at the corner of the dance floor to record the festivities. Like most family videos, the resulting footage is rather clumsy and out of

focus: energetic partygoers repeatedly bumped into the camera, which caused it to record long shots of the ceiling or the back of someone’s head. Despite these unintended, meditative sequences, the camera acts as an objective witness to the evening. Many of the individuals captured in the footage have since passed, so for Day, seeing these beloved family members dancing and celebrating fifty years of marriage is bittersweet. It is, she says, a testament to long love. 27

The new works on view at CUE Art Foundation represent the artist’s reflections on the footage of that joyous evening. Working with found material and actively playing with chance, Day’s works are memories made tangible—whether as small as a powder compact or as large as a room, they are intimate and slightly surreal. Having grown up in the same house for her entire childhood and within a large, close-knit family, Day makes works that are unabashedly sentimental but never maudlin. She combs through junkyards, thrift stores, and eBay for materials and inspiration, and has an uncanny ability for locating patterns and doubles. Over the course of the past year, one of her most consistent resources has been Recycled Artist in Residency (RAIR) in Philadelphia, where she was a resident artist in 2015. Located on the site of Revolution Recovery, a sorting facility in the northeast corner of the city, the residency program situates artists within reach of hundreds of tons of construction and demolition waste. The remains of entire homes often end up in the junkyard as a result of demolition, eviction, or foreclosure. Intensely personal items like family photographs and letters are mixed in with stained mattresses and doorframes, allowing for chance encounters between the resident artists and materials that would not have occurred elsewhere.


Of all the things that Day has found at RAIR, two are particularly remarkable. During one of her visits to the site, a photograph of a scantily clad young woman posing seductively in a World War II officer’s jacket surfaced. It was clearly meant for the eyes of the woman’s lover, so Day tucked it away for safekeeping. Later, in a different area of the same pile, Day uncovered another photograph of the same woman, who looked to be at least in her seventies, standing on a beach in a blue parka. In an excerpt from the poem titled, “To the woman who I found twice,” Day writes, The shape of your mouth and eyes are the same though age has whitened your hair and skin. Your hands are at rest in your pockets. These photos are still for him and for you.

Day’s innate ability to locate objects that are imbued with meaning is paired with her strong conviction that people live on through specific objects, patterns, and materials. In this instance, even though she never knew the woman in the photographs, the act of safeguarding them is her way of not only preserving the woman’s image but also maintaining an intimate relationship between two lovers. The photographs have not yet been incorporated into an artwork, but the sentiment expressed in Day’s poem can be felt throughout Stills and Composites.

The artist’s decision to keep the party video private and not to display it in the gallery is indicative of her desire to protect the people who live on through her source material, regardless of whether they are family members or complete strangers. There is a delicate interplay between intimacy and anonymity in her work, which manifests in an abstract sense of loss. Day’s works are colored by melancholy, for there is an implicit understanding of a marked passage of time. Cascade (One’s one and only) (2016), is inspired by the corsages and boutonnières worn by the partygoers. A yellowed vinyl seat cushion, found at RAIR, has been meticulously hand-cut and -sewn into a cascading bridal bouquet. Judging by its mustard-yellow hue, the vinyl had protected the seat from several generations’ worth of wear and tear. Despite the associations of vinyl-covered seating with the dowdy homes of old-fashioned relatives, this flattened bouquet is elegant and visually lush. The delicate, translucent layers overlap to create shades of gold that cast warm shadows upon the gallery wall. Further into the gallery is an audio installation titled Playbacks #1–5 (2016), which is composed of five vintage Pioneer Mimmy headphones through which visitors can hear renditions of old love songs like “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “I’m in the

Mood for Love,” and “Side By Side.” The audio tracks are lifted directly from the video, so the singer and his accompanying Casio keyboard sound distant, as if they were emanating from a distant room. In previous installations of this piece, Day connected the headphones to old playback units with found cassettes. Realistic Pocket Philosophy (2016) plays a lengthy, foundcassette recording of an elderly man offering extemporaneous musings on life—amateur aphorisms, like “Only you can program your own brain correctly” and “One of the greatest assets in life is a sense of humor,” give insight to the worldview of the man behind the voice. As with Playbacks #1–5, listening to the grainy found recording in Realistic Pocket Philosophy is like encountering a ghost: vaguely eerie and unexpected. Unlike professional audio recordings that try to capture the original acoustic experience, listening to these audio tracks is to be confronted by time and space. Day first began creating architectural installations as a graduate student at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and such works have since grown progressively larger and more complex. These works use materials sourced from homes that were once inhabited by friends or strangers. Larger works like In So Much As This (2011) and Bystander (2005) incorporate found doors.


Untitled (Staircase) (2005) is a freestanding but distorted staircase constructed with a found balustrade. More recent works, like Shift #2 (2014), continue in this trajectory by incorporating walls and wall coverings while playing with forced perspective and depth of field. The light I’ll be (1983) (2016) is the largest piece in Stills and Composites and quietly alludes to the look and atmosphere of the anniversary party. Rather than being a reconstruction of the VFW hall as documented in the video, it is reminiscent of a dreamscape in which only certain scenes are in clear focus. It is a large, white rectangular cube that stands more than eight feet tall and eighteen feet long, with the walls and exterior baseboard matching that of the gallery walls of CUE. At the front of the cube is a shallow coat closet, framed by a set of faux-wood-grain folding doors. Inside the closet is a row of jackets and coats, many of which were found at RAIR and can be dated to the 1960s and 1980s. The coats clearly belonged to different bodies—some are masculine, others are feminine; a few are quite large while others are more petite. As one walks around the piece, a series of narrow openings in the cube offer precise sightlines into a series of interiors. Each view is meticulously composed to feature a single point of focus—in one instance, a pair of vintage eyeglasses rest on the corner of a table, and in


another, a door stands slightly ajar. It is possible to approach each of these views as one would a film still, for the particularities of each view can be analyzed as part of a mise-en-scène. The closing lines of William Carlos Williams’s “A Love Song” reads, “How can I tell / If I shall ever love you again / As I do now?” As one of Day’s favorite poets, Williams has captured the paradoxes of love—it is at once singular and all-encompassing, fleeting yet eternal. A video of a celebration of love inspired Stills and Composites, but by obscuring the objects of affection and making visible the passage of time, Day plays with notions of sentimentality concerning love and loss. The process of sifting through refuse to rescue objects from destruction or neglect is an inherent part of Day’s practice, and through the skillful manipulation of these objects, she reanimates the lives and loves of those who would otherwise be forgotten.

This essay was written as part of the Young Art Critic Mentoring Program, a partnership between AICAUSA (US section of International Association of Art Critics) and CUE, which appoints established art critics to serve as mentors for emerging writers. In 2014, CUE joined forces with Art21, combining the Young Art Critic Mentoring Program with the Art21 Magazine Writer-in-Residence initiative. Each writer composes a

long-form critical essay on one of CUE’s exhibiting artists for publication in CUE’s exhibition catalogue, which is also published by Art21 in its online magazine. Please visit for more information on AICA-USA,

or to learn how to participate in this program. Any quotes are from interviews with the author unless otherwise specified. No part of this essay may be reproduced without prior consent from the

author. Lilly Wei is AICA’s Coordinator for the program this season. For additional arts-related writing, please visit

Writer Mimi Cheng is a writer, editor, and Ph.D. student in the Visual and Cultural Studies program at the

University of Rochester, where she focuses on issues of spatial politics, urbanism, and contemporary art. She

is on the editorial board of the peer-reviewed journal, InVisible Culture and has written for Title Magazine. She graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art with a BFA in interdisciplinary sculpture. She is currently based in Rochester, NY and Philadelphia, PA.

Mentor Sara Reisman is the Artistic Director of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, whose mission is

focused on art and social justice in New York City. Recently curated exhibitions for the foundation include

Mobility and Its Discontents, Between History and the Body, and When Artists Speak Truth, all three presented on The 8th Floor. From 2008 until 2014, Reisman was the director of New York City’s Percent for Art program

where she managed more than 100 permanent public art commissions for city funded architectural projects,

including artworks by Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Mary Mattingly, Tattfoo Tan, and Ohad Meromi, among others for civic sites like libraries, public schools, correctional facilities, streetscapes and parks. She was the 2011

critic-in-residence at Art Omi, and a 2013 Marica Vilcek Curatorial Fellow, awarded by the Foundation for a Civil Society.


CUE Art Foundation’s operations and programs are made possible with the generous

support of foundations, corporations, government agencies, individuals, and its members.

MAJOR PROGRAMMATIC SUPPORT PROVIDED BY Agnes Gund Anholt Services (USA) Inc. CAF American Donor Fund Compass Group Management LLC Compass Diversified Holdings Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation The Joan Mitchell Foundation Lenore Malen and Mark Nelkin The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation William Talbot Hillman Foundation New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council This project is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts This exhibition is sponsored, in part, by RAIR (Recycled Artist in Residency)


All artwork Š Christina P. Day.

Catalogue design by Shona Masarin-Hurst.