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"Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon": Sable Elyse...


Trigger: Sable Elyse Smith

Hi, my name is Sable Elyse Smith.

The work that I have included in this show is from a new series of works and this is sort of the third iteration or the third sort of work in that series where I’m creating these neon works that for me sort of function as landscape paintings. And I am sort of, I approach neon for these works because I was thinking a lot about these two shadow archives that kind of show up in a number of projects that I’ve been working on right now. And one is the sort of landscape mural that’s painted inside the prison visiting room, which serves as a backdrop for these sort of vernacular images that become kind of like intimate memories or mementos for when you visit someone that’s incarcerated. Also, I was looking at these photographs produced by the California state department of corrections and rehabilitation, and looking at a number of specific prisons that I visited.

The institution creates these sort of beautiful, sublime, romantic landscapes that are photographs of all the prisons they own and operate and they’re sort of areal views. So it became curious to me to think about one: the time, money and labor that goes into the production of that image of that quality and the impetus for it, and also the intentionality around how the institution would use them to circulate and to what means. And so looking at these two idyllic landscape images and then I was sort of very interested in that space because there’s a number of micro economies around the production of images that goes into those very different but particular sort of landscape images. And became interested in that as sort of a form.

 So these neon works are typically huge in scale. And they also have a horizontal orientation, all of them have this sort of underline under the text which serves as a horizon line, so it’s sort of a minimalist gesture to a landscape. And the color and that line changes to hint towards what type of landscape it could be. So this one is blue for a number of reasons that sort of echo in the text but also that point to an ocean scape or a seascape. There’s another that’s green that has foliage of pastoral hints to it. And they also hold the scale of the wall in this way that’s overwhelming and super seductive. Neon is this sexy kind of material. That draws you in. It also is a material that like people feel sort of obligated to try to interact with. People are always trying to photograph themselves with neon works even though it refuses to be photographed in a way. So I was interested in that tension and that sort of play. So those were some of the things that went into how I landed on this sort of form for this series of works.

"Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon": Sable Elyse Smith
"Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon": Sable Elyse Smith