Beyond Reach: Selva Aparicio and Valentina Zamfirescu

Curated by Anastasia Tinari

Selva Aparicio and Valentina Zamfirescu:

Beyond Reach 

With Onyx Engobar “Use of the Erotic as Power: A Self Study in Black Myths & Black Eroticism” in the Milwaukee Avenue Window Gallery

Roots & Culture is pleased to present Selva Aparicio and Valentina Zamfirescu: Beyond Reach, an exhibition that pairs two artists who reflect on the (im)possibility of corporeal touch. In Beyond Reach, viewers near physical bodies and their memory-images yet true connection continually evades; multiple layers of material and technological intervention block the path and problematize skin-to-skin contact.

Using nature’s discarded husks – insect wings, oyster shells, plant leaves, and even human corpses donated for educational use – Selva Aparicio gives meaning to the neglected, finds beauty in peril, and empowers her gathered materials to raise questions on mourning, death and fragility. To create Velo de Luto (Mourning Veil), Selva sought out a 17-year Magicicada brood’s surfacing, waited for the insects’ short lives to transpire, and laboriously gathered 2,653 cicada wings. She then used her own and her mother’s hair to sew the wings into a delicate net imbued with markers of trauma and re-birth. Created in the form of a weeping veil, Velo de Luto also points to patriarchal oppression in countries like the artist’s native Spain. Meanwhile, in the new installation Entre Nosotros (Among Us), Aparicio has covered an entire room with concrete tiles cast from impressions of human cadavers, inviting viewers to touch and intimately experience the crevices of skin frozen in metamorphosis from living to dead.

Valentina Zamfirescu’s sculptural installations likewise center around bodies and mediate corporeal experiences of the world. Working primarily with digital technologies, Zamfirescu brings back suppressed personal memories and stages them in virtual reality or through digital print. In her VR piece Archive, the viewer walks in an infinitely flat but floral landscape near two giant utopian-modernist monuments, drawn from the artist’s childhood in communist Romania. Animated, larger-than-life female figures who co-habit this disorienting virtual space remain too close yet out of reach. In One Onethousand, a version of the artist’s unclad, digitized body is projected on a bulbous, fleshy screen made from synthetic chemical material. The body is both real and imagined, never fully visible or comprehensible to the viewer. While Zamfirescu’s most recent work employs VR, her virtual environments always exist within an installation and employ sculptural elements to direct and constantly pull viewers back to their occupied body. Interwoven together as a two-person exhibition, Selva Aparicio’s and Valentina Zamfirescu’s meticulously crafted installations reference a universality of being and distill our strongest, most human connections as material and digital form.

Parallel programming:

Saturday, February 15, 5 PM – Conversation with the artists

Interdisciplinary artist SELVA APARICIO works across installation, sculpture and performance, creating artwork that functions as a research practice of death and mourning. Selva Aparicio was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain; she received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from Yale University in Sculpture. Her work has been exhibited internationally in solo and group exhibitions; she was recently named the recipient of the JUNCTURE Fellowship in Art and International Human Rights, the Blair Dickinson Memorial Prize, and an Artist Residency at the Museum of Surgical Science.

VALENTINA ZAMFIRESCU excavates and abstracts her own suppressed memories and traumas from a childhood in Romania during Communism’s abolishment and her family’s subsequent immigration to the United States. Valentina Zamfirescu received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA in Sculpture at Yale University, where she received the Blended Reality Grant and the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media Graduate Fellowship. She is a co-founder and co-director of 4th Ward Project Space in Chicago and has exhibited at institutions and galleries including Essex Flowers, Slow, the International Museum of Surgical Science, and ACRE Exhibitions. Her work was included in the B3 Biennial of the Moving Image in Frankfurt, Germany.

Graphic Design by Marta Galaz