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Diverse Works, Houston, Texas, USA
November 2, 2013 – December 28, 2013
DiverseWorks has commissioned UK-based multidisciplinary artists Heather and Ivan Morison to create theirfirst major project in the United States. Using social personae to investigate the construction of self, the Morisons engage with materials, histories, sites, and processes. Over the past twelve months, the Morisons have conducted a number of site visits and research expeditions in the Gulf Coast region. Their experiences, including a roadtrip from Juárez to New Orleans, serve as inspiration for this new work which includes an interactive gallery installation and transient public performances.
Slyk Chaynjis is both the name of the exhibition and theprotagonist in the Morisons’ mysterious fictional narrative. Focusing on an unlikely pair of travelers engaged in an epic journey, the tale unpacks theconstruction of “self” as a performance provoked by personal trauma, psychological breakdown, or ethical discrepancy. The Morisons’ archetypal characters struggle to reconcile internal truths with public perceptions asthey resolutely forge ahead into an unknown future filled with delusion, enchantment, and fleeting hope.
Slyk has embarked on an epic journey to places unknown and for purposes unclear. Previously of some wealth and reputation, she has experienced a personal downfall, leading her to reinvent herself as an androgynous oracle of sorts. Having traveled a greatdistance already, Slyk and her fellow travelers arrive in Houston on November 1. DiverseWorks is but one destination along her route, serving as a refuge and temporary encampment as she explores the streets of Houston before ultimately continuing on her enigmatic voyage.
Inside the private space of the gallery, Slyk tells her tale with objects and personal interactions with visitors who have entered into her realm. While inside, she is in doubt of her identity, oscillating between her past and present personae. It is when she embarks outside for daily excursions with her companion – part servant, part son – that she is “on stage” and fully in character. They stop on street corners: she delivering proclamations, dance performances, and stories, and he serving alternatingly as patsy, assistant, protector and observer. They are an odd couple, contrasting in every physical sense, but their differences create a greater whole and their actions feel choreographed through long familiarity.
About the artists
Heather and Ivan Morison actively engage with materials, histories, sites, and processes to create their art. Through peripatetic travels, the Morisons have produced sculptures, photographs, buildings, performances, radio plays, and fiction. They survey, record, andcollect to rebuild and re-present the often familiar, investing their observations and discoveries with vigorous fascination. In essence, the Morisons’ practice is performative. The Morisons represented Wales at the 52nd Venice Biennale and have had solo exhibitions of their works at such important venues as The Tate Modern, The Southbank Centre London, Milton Keynes, The Hepworth Wakefield, Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Camden Arts Centre.
DiverseWorks is a non-profit art center in Houston, Texas dedicated to commissioning and presenting new visual, performing, and literary art. DiverseWorks is a place where the process of creating art is valued and where artists can test new ideas in the public arena. By encouraging the investigation of current artistic, cultural, and social issues, DiverseWorks builds, educates, and sustains audiences for contemporary art.
All photos by Paul Hester.
Courtesy of the artists and DiverseWorks.