Sapar Contemporary announces Still Life: A Taxonomy of Being, the gallery’s second solo exhibition of work by Phoebe Boswell. The exhibition features 49 drawings, watercolors, and pastels created between December 2020 and April 2021, while Boswell was sequestered at home during the UK’s third government-mandated lockdown. The artworks and the sound of Boswell breathing fill the gallery, encapsulating a time in which breath became perilous and, for many, devices functioned as the primary mediators of being and belonging. Main image: Phoebe Boswell Notes on a Lockdown: Self Care as Praxis , 2021 Pencil on paper 9 5/8 x 13 3/8 in 24.5 x 34 cm (SC-PB-152)
Much of Boswell’s work starts from the belief that “the most personal things are usually the most universal.” This understanding of the personal as always already implicated with the world outside of oneself echoes earlier generations of feminist artists like Adrian Piper, Sonia Boyce, Claudette Johnson, or Martha Rosler. They, too, make formally rigorous and conceptually rich artworks that mine everyday life and personal experiences to imagine liberating ways—or taxonomies—of being (1). Boswell does so in drawing, a medium in which she excels and whose limits and possibilities she pushes so expertly.
Here, the personal and the everyday resound, transformed from diaristic snapshots of Boswell’s life in lockdown and extending the themes of portraiture, technology, grief, memory, and resilience that she has long explored. There are self-portraits that began as selfies, with filters and virtual backgrounds suggesting who or where one might rather be. Some drawings reference screenshots and memes pulled from Twitter or Instagram, as if mid-scroll, all related to people or posts that made Boswell feel less alone. Others communicate the solitude of lockdown: a long and empty corridor, cut flowers that have begun to droop, the sky seen from Boswell’s apartment window.
Drawing is time consuming and private, physical and direct. It is noticeably absent from the many activities listed in Boswell’s “Notes on a pandemic,” posted on Instagram on March 30, 2020, four days after the UK’s first lockdown began. Opening with the now rote chorus of “Mask Up. Wash hands. Stay home,” Boswell’s words, all in a fast-moving present imperative, convey the bewilderment and anxiety about what to do and how to protect, soothe, and care for oneself and for one’s communities. It concludes: “Go to the window and let the sun kiss your face. Stroke yourself. Stimulate your senses. Ululate. Be still. Breathe.
Read the ful essay on link below. The exhibition runs until 12th June.
Essay by Emma Chubb, Ph.D. Curator of Contemporary Art, Smith College Museum of Art Sapar Contemporary, 9 N Moore, New York, NY 10013 | www.saparcontemporary.com