Matrix 176, Unfold
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Brazilian conceptual artist Valeska Soares created two new site-specific installations for MATRIX 176, titled Unfold. Her immaculately-realized, poetic environments incorporated found, manipulated, and manmade objects to address subjects including spirituality, desire, ephemerality, and time.
In Tabled, the first installation, Soares responded to the modern architecture of the 1934 Avery Memorial and to Pietro Francavilla’s Venus with Nymph and Satyr (1600), which looms over the fountain at the heart of the space. Soares employed the museum’s collection of tables of all styles, sizes, and heights, tightly placed edge to edge, creating a barrier around the pool. Each table was topped with a felt pad, precisely cut to size, in a different solid color—black, white, red, gold, and silver. Viewed from the upper two balconies, the surfaces of the tables will read like monochromatic shaped canvases. In her installation, Soares mixed history, abstraction, and everyday objects.
Soares’s degree in architecture, acute interest in design, and sense of space informed Unhinged, the second of her installations. Framing the pure architecture of the Avery Memorial, Soares built a new architectural feature within the gallery in the form of a labyrinthine sculpture zig-zagging through the space. The “walls” of the sculpture were constructed of 20 wood headboards dating from the 1900s to the 1970s hinged together to disrupt the viewer’s typical navigation of the space. The unique headboard forms suggested not just bedframes, but confining fences, prison cell bars, even cemetery headstones. Ominous, but also beautiful and poetic, the distinctive patterns of the old, worn, decorative headboards also conjured ideas about history and associations with the bed―a place of love, death, sleep, dreams, memories, and the lives of owners long passed.