The Box is pleased to present INTERIOR CASTLE an exhibition of new films and stills from Los Angeles-based artist, Sarah Conaway. This is the artist’s third solo show with the gallery.
The exhibition lays out a progression of 10 single-reel Super 8 mm films projected on the walls of the gallery structured as stages of strangely observed meditations, with a series of 20 film stills installed in the interior room of the gallery.
Teresa of Avila, wrote The Interior Castle to attempt to share her path towards enlightenment. The book reveals a journey that must be taken inside ourselves, allowing access to what the mystic calls the “mansions of the mind.” Conaway invokes this structure to present ten film projections to allow entry into the mind. These filmic pilgrimages seek a glimpse of the sublime while other moments suggest a torpor or depression. The artist inhabits a religious or esoteric disposition to interrogate the essence or structure of time, stillness, movement, revelation, and repetition.
These films began as screen tests, exploring the concept of a “still life” in an apartment. A battle against the feeling of stagnation, the films became a noticing or grounding exercise—first working within her home studio and apartment, then expanding into her neighborhood. The films also take on an automatic or improvisational style, moving from one observed moment to the next: architectural details, cracks, spills, hairs, palm trees, flowers, sunlight, shadows, curtains, the mundanity of the everyday, studio materials, and objects.
Obliquely incorporating references to Maya Deren, Meshes of an Afternoon; Kenneth Anger, Puce Moment; Man Ray, Emak Bakia—the artist inhabits her own subtle surrealism and cosmology. A piece of coral and a ceramic vessel have been present in the artist's works for some time, addressing a certain kind of symbolism present in the artist's practice. The artist has sometimes described the coral as “the heart" or “the mind”, and the sliver-shaped vessel as “the eye.” It is unclear where these ideas or images are from—are they found in the mind, or does the mind receive them and give them to the eye?
The film “stills” distilled from the films are installed in an interior room, both an interstitium and terminus. The stills present returning imagery, “the eye”, “the mind”, columns, interiors, folds, and fabrics. Like the films, the still series presents a cyclical as well as a progressive structure. There is an idea of not understanding where we are in the process, a futility in trying to escape. In a sense the stills are like messages returning, but also a reminder of the space that the artist can sometimes access but cannot always enter.
Sarah Conaway (b.1972 in York, PA) received her MFA in Photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2001. Her work has been featured in exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including solo and two person exhibitions at The Box, Los Angeles, Barbara Seiler Gallery, Zurich and Bellwether Gallery, New York, and in group exhibitions at Tanya Bonakdar, Los Angeles, Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris, Richard Telles Gallery, Los Angeles, Gallery Diet, Miami. Her work was included in the biennial exhibition “Made In LA” at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, in 2012. She lives and works in Los Angeles.