Jean Alexander Frater: Review

Nov 9, 2016

Published on November 8, 2016

Softness as Subversion
written by Annette LePique

The Franklin’s My Feet Have Lost Memory of Softness utilizes space and place to explore the concept of softness, questioning and expanding the audience’s pre-existing relationships with change, time, and the hierarchies of an art gallery. Curated by Ionit Behar, the crux of the installation is the representation of softness as a characteristic of mutability and change. Within the realm of an art installation, change can be indicative of transition and fluctuation in a viewer’s experience and subsequent understanding of a work. This conception of softness is compounded by the nature of the Franklin as a site, a quality described by the show’s written materials as an “unconventional and unofficial presence.” Such presence is derived from the fact that the Franklin is an artist-run site within Edra Soto and Dan Sullivan’s East Garfield Park home and yard. These blurred boundaries between the communal and the domestic are in and of themselves a softness, one that speaks towards an artist community formed from transition.

When entering the Franklin’s outdoor space one is immediately confronted by Jean Alexander Frater’s amorphous pastel canvases weeping through the panels of the site’s central wooden structure. Inside the structure Alexander’s canvases are stretched taut across the slats, a contrast which calls to question how audience members interact with the piece’s spacial dimensions and materiality.

The idea of softness as a quality of change reconfigures the viewer experience. Audience members are afforded a certain freedom through Behar’s engagement of metamorphosis. Simply put, our role is not limited to passive viewership and artistic consumption. We are active participants who possess the power to redefine how art and community form.

My Feet Have Lost Memory of Softness is at the Franklin (3522 W Franklin Blvd) from October 22nd to November 19th.