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Boudoir of Doubt (Animalic)

17Essex Gallery, NY, NY September 2019


"In Sadaf H Nava’s exhibition, a suite of seven modestly sized improvisational drawings hang on opposite walls of this narrow gallery—studies in porosity that scamper into the unconscious. In them, mostly women and femmes—who don ball gowns or fetishy ensembles in latex—caper between strange urban vignettes. They cram into Jacuzzi-like cylinders in Animalic (all works 2019) as two rearing mustangs arch above them, while in Puddles of Blue, composed with a hue of colored pencil that evokes lapis lazuli, water flows off of rocks and vintage umbrellas. Different kinds of fluid appear in a number of the show’s otherworldly scenes, suggesting emotional agility—or the disintegration of boundaries.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -Harry Burke

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ArtForum Critics' Picks 2019    

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"...Retirement: Behind the Seam, a capacious, twenty-two-minute music video, is a tense self-portrait shot on location in some of the few prevailing public spaces in Manhattan’s storied Lower East Side, such as East River Park and the Hester Street Playground. Deconstructed is a voguish term in avant-garde music, having been pinned to a loosely codified genre of theoretically dense interpretations of rave and rap music typically circulated online. The term is operative here, too, as Nava, in the musical lineage of experimentalists like Tamio Shiraishi and Okkyung Lee, reminds us that deconstruction, like the illogic it unveils, has no end. The video brims with an erotics of excess—a sensibility that defines the artist’s multimodal practice—that, in this instance, exposes the thorny mechanics of feminized image production. Awkward dialogue (“We could go somewhere else, too. . .”) and incidental field recordings interrupt a mournful, reverberating violin as, on-screen, Nava lingers long enough to get the emphatic take. Despite, or because of, the swells of desire that precipitate everyday life, too often we waver where we are." (Burke, Artforum)

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Press Release:

“There is no difference between what a book talks about and how it is made.  Therefore a book also has no object.”  ––Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Intuition is precisely that which overflows.

A body of a thousand tiny engines metabolizing and ejecting text; flows, currents, paths, lineages, lifespans, leaves in the wind, migrations of a million arrows/eros sp[i/e]lling into every exterior, looping upwards and downwards and ducking sideways to create walls from flooring.  They do not compose words, barter with vessels of meaning: I’m not talking about tiles of text but textiles, pure closure, a tapestry of repeating (w)holes, a place of exchange between viewers and artifacts that constitutes no subject matter but the naked matter of the work.

Intoxication: the impossibility of finding out where the orchid’s map ends and the wasp’s begins (or vice versa).

Maps inescapably physical; fabrics easily creased, torn, burned, taped to the wall, dropped in the corner of a bar where someone else could pick it up and use it differently or doodle in the margins or over the old markings or simply sweep it into the trash.  No preconceived set of possibilities, only touch, only the possibility of invention.

Seduction as this sole possibility; an act that doesn’t take but only proliferates as immeasurable hazard, a contagion of vertiginous agency, a freedom that irreversibly locks you into your trajectory, away from the inchoate difference that could have been. “Alternate” histories never possible, existing only as apparitions of this single interior: a strong and beautiful horse, a mercurial waterfall twisted into a perpetual virility machine, feet of latex and concrete fiddling against the river's current.  To induce further significance, to suppose these automata possess insides of their own, chambers not yet explored, would be to browbeat, brutalize them into submission, into forcing a single (wh)Y for each X you engrave on their flesh.

They offer no shortcuts to finding out when the palace becomes a prison and when and if you’ll ever come back from that point, of knowing whether it’s your decor, or me?

–Alex Boland

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