Boca Raton, FL – The Boca Museum of Art presents a survey of works by Elaine Reichek, a conceptual artist known for her needlework with a feminist and multicultural twist. On exhibition May 3 through July 27, 2014, Elaine Reichek: The Eye of the Needle explores the translation, and mistranslation, of artifacts and images by outside cultures and colonizers.
Reichek finds, enlarges, and colors ethnographic and architectural photographs, pairing them with her own hand-knitted interpretations. She deliberately misreads the images, raising questions about what information can be acquired from a photograph that’s viewed by a culture far removed from the original context.
Ethnographic photos of indigenous Fuegians, the native inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego in South America, are altered to make their body-paint pictographs appear as abstract designs in the bright red, yellow, and blues of modernist paintings. Photography of dwellings and shelters from tribal cultures receive a similar treatment as the artist raises questions whether the medium is an objective document or truly a reflection of the Western beliefs, morals, and fantasies from which it’s derived.
The translation from photograph into the incongruous medium of knitting further disassembles the subject, and echoes the way information is passed between cultures which shape it along the way. The use of knitting and embroidery (often denigrated as simply craft) is central to Reichek’s work. As she said, “the meaning of an artwork is always bound up with its media and processes and their history.”
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