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Back on Saturday, November 5, 2016, I was on my way home when all of a sudden, I noticed that there was an art show going on at the Infinity Room just two blocks away from my home in the mid city area of Los Angeles.
Quite often, this space is used to showcase various artists and this time around, the featured artist was MJ Katz whose first solo exhibition, So Long: So Far, deconstructs the nature of home with regard to place. Following displacement from her childhood house, the artist embarked on a cathartic process of documenting herself in the place she grew up. The artist writes:
Safety was not a vibrating bungalow that was brought to my grade school to teach us about earthquakes. It was not the reassurance from my D.A.R.E. teacher that no one would run up to you on the street and inject you with heroin. It was not lockdown drills: hiding underneath our desks, and turning off the lights. It was not chaperones on field trips, or the buddy system at summer camp. It was not a flashlight, a first aid kit, or a seat belt. It was my house- the dappled sunlight on my brother鈥檚 twin size bed, my mom鈥檚 intricate pins and brooches hanging from a towel on the inside of my bathroom cabinet, the crown molding of flowers on my bedroom ceiling- the knowledge of a door that could stay closed at my will.
The safety that Katz refers to is in regard to space, not only in the exterior and locational ways that she excavates through the documentation of her childhood home, but also in a psychological sense. By placing herself in the intimate nooks and crannies of a house in a state of construction and transition, she creates visual parallels for the transformation of self, and the standards and trappings by which we measure and recognize home.
The dark vignettes of her frame are illuminated by her repeated figure playing different family member roles鈥揼iving a reciprocal look at how our identity is sculpted to fit in relation to both people and place, and how those forces have the capacity to act on and influence one another. While the house is vast in its emptiness, her presence in and behind the frame give it an intimacy that allows the artist to pull the viewer across the spectrum of naked, yearning vulnerability to empowered confidence.
Her work is made eerie by nature of its transitory state from dwelling to ruin, capturing a site in the process of losing its quality of home by no longer providing a safe space for the artist. In this series, she sorts through, reminisces, boxes up, and discards the ways in which she defines and quantifies home. A butterfly no longer needs its cocoon; a ghost fulfills its haunt; MJ Katz says 鈥淪o Long.鈥?br />
It was a nice, cute art exhibition and I think she is going to do quite well with her art work.
Enclosed, please enjoy the pictures that I have taken for your enjoyment.
Howard Paul Shore
Visitor, Promoter And Reviewer