Elizabeth Alexander

Let Him Speak First, 2019
extracted wallpaper print from What is Left Unsaid, adhesive, cast paper
140 x 98 x 70 in
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Under a new title I reconfigured the parts into two corresponding wall-hangings that regard the complex nature of home in a less direct way than the parent series. These new works speak more to the unseen dynamics of living that leave a residue on the spaces we occupy, no matter how well-constructed the veneer.

“Let Him Speak First” is a phrase pulled from a vintage advice book for new wives pointing to a domestic hierarchy that still informs power dynamics within contemporary culture: " Him” being a vague presence more important than oneself.

Alexander spends her days in the studio literally and metaphorically breaking down once coveted ideals of domestic symbols of success and beauty. She takes printed materials such as wallpaper, upholstery, or porcelain ware, and separates out the pattern from its ground, isolating and removing all of the items of embellishment. She makes counterfeit objects by casting paper pulp to rearrange and reassemble them into new forms that become encrusted concentrated quantities of harvested print. What is left is a depleted skin of negative space filled with voids from the extracted printed matter that serves as a counter to the abundance. ‘Let Him Speak First,’ a faked composite of chandeliers, area rug, rosettes, and porcelain ware are all just a series of hollow paper skins. A collection of objects of value without purpose, overgrown, and incomplete that explore the meaning of home.


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