DEAD HORSE BAY
October 26 - November 23, 2019
Two-person show with Christina Quisumbing Ramilo
Found shoe soles from Dead Horse Bay, Brooklyn.
Collaboration with Christina Quisumbing Ramilo.
SILVERLENS is pleased to bring together Christina Quisumbing Ramilo and Pinky Ibarra Urmaza in a two-man exhibition Dead Horse Bay. This exhibition will highlight the artists’ similarities– they both lived in New York City and their work are involved with the assembly of found objects and discarded fragments imbued with history.
Dead Horse Bay is Christina Quisumbing Ramilo’s third exhibition in the gallery. Previous exhibitions are Construct (2013) and Ordo Ab Chao (2018). This is the first time for Pinky Ibarra Urmaza to exhibit her work at Silverlens.
Dead Horse Bay was a tiny island off the coast of Brooklyn that no longer exists today. In the early 20th century, a community of immigrants lived there, working in nuisance industries: what was then the world’s largest waste reduction site and animal rendering facility. The island was isolated; its inhabitants neglected by municipal authorities and discriminated upon by city-dwellers. Despite these conditions, they were a happy community who found joy in simple coastal activities, and faced their challenges with resourcefulness and adaptability.
When the factories were closed down and residents evicted in the 1930s by the infamous Robert Moses, the island and its history were buried by landfills that connected it to the mainland. But, as if refusing to be erased from memory, remnants from the lives of its former inhabitants emerge on the shoreline to this day. It was in this landscape where Ramilo and Urmaza went hunting for materials that have inspired their work. Artefacts weathered by time and tide are treasures for artists who bring to life hidden stories and create new ones for their audience.
Ramilo’s assemblages are composed of objects she has been collecting for decades, construction site discards, cast-offs from artists’ studios, configured with recent found objects from New York City and Dead Horse Bay. She handles material with minimal intervention, exposing the beauty of what is usually overlooked, playing with their functional identities and sculptural qualities-- the recreated forms and meanings applied to a new context.
Urmaza’s collages are fictional narratives using damaged book parts, hence literally deconstructing a source of stories. She combines them with tintype portraits, artifacts from the shore, children’s game pieces, letters, recipes, scraps of fabric, metal and wood, thoughtfully arranged and further marked with graphite, acrylic and ink. These discerning artistic choices echo the quiet domestic situation of that unusual community, while encouraging viewers to reflect on their own current socio-political situations.
The gallery’s viewing room shows another artistic recreation of Dead Horse Bay in the form of an immersive installation. Upon entering the room, one sees Urmaza’s abstracted horizon made of deconstructed old book covers. Shoe soles collected on location are presented on the floor, an evocative recreation of what one often sees while visiting the bay. To the right hangs Ramilo’s time-worn box revealing a tiny bottle, still containing some sand and seawater. To the left is a table filled with porcelain shards and water-damaged photos; on top of that sits Urmaza’s glass terrarium containing sand, glass and ceramic fragments discovered on site beside Ramilo’s terrarium filled with 365 wish bones. A recording of sounds at the bay-- waves crashing into the shore producing chimes of broken glass, provides viewers with an atmospheric sense of being there.
Despite a more seemingly inclusive global consciousness, the pervading political climate is still unfavorable to immigrants of all economic levels. Marginalized communities continually strive to be heard even within more developed communication systems. The exhibition brings to light much more than a forgotten history. It is a reminder of the ongoing human struggle and the triumphs of an enduring spirit.
- Stephanie Frondoso