Moira Holohan: Glimpse

September 25 - October 23, 2021

Reception: Saturday September 25th, 6 - 9PM

Holohan labors over layers of time that loop together history with present-day patterns and futuristic media prisms

Selected Works

Moira Holohan: Glimpse

Emerson Dorsch Gallery is proud to present Glimpse, a solo show by Moira Holohan, who translates and digests Willem de Kooning’s painted portraits, and turns her renderings into weavings, digital prints and animations culminating in a body of work that forcefully and humorously proclaims her take on bodies in multiple realms.

The semi-nude human body for Holohan is a mark as much as a blot of poured paint or the edge of a ripped paper strip. It is another signifier in her toolbox, along with the green screen, which we’ll discuss later, and deskilled weaving techniques. All of these have played a part in her practice for years. For a long time, each were accessories to her videos, stop animations of frames that were each multi-media collages. In the last couple of years, the weavings have come to the fore.

Holohan finds de Kooning’s nudes absurd. The act of copying these works is both maddening and an act of love. “I love figuration and abstraction – that tension. I feel like I grew up on that tension. And he talks about that tension […] Because I was told in undergrad at Bard by my professors: You are not allowed to paint the figure.” And she didn’t. Or at least, in her videos, digital collages and textile pieces, her depiction of the figure is usually interrupted by multiple layers of process. For instance, she altered by hand each frame of a video in which flesh was pressed against an imaging machine. Sometimes, dancers engage with her installations and videos, as at FRINGE Miami or THIS IS HAPPENING, a program of performances at EDG in 2014. In Glimpse, glitch-like jagged lines literally thread through and interrupt the figure. It’s a painting made fabric made digital.

The green hemp threads and their compositional function vividly echo glitch phenomena – a property that in turn emphasizes the materiality of seemingly ephemeral digital media. Variations on Chroma green also refer to green screen and also to the possibilities that green screen affords. For Holohan, this color is “transient, it’s a color that symbolizes a signifier. A contemporary color that […] people know [noting the stream of memes on the internet] more and more as a signifier for something you can replace.” Green screen is a cornerstone of Holohan’s practice; she has experimented with the technique and its role as a signifier for the last ten years, using the green on three-story-tall banners in a multimedia public sculpture called Pattern State, in videos, and in weavings as early as 2014. Left green (like a blank space), the functionality of the keying out technology means that one can imagine projecting anything into that space, a DIY collage, a comment button for imagists in an age where participation means more visibility. It’s this generation’s answer to the Picture Generation’s appetite for collage and appropriation.

In contrast to the digital reference that the green screen makes, the thick, clumsy presence of the weaving and animation marks are emphatically on the side of awkward, limited bodies; Holohan’s consciously deskilled technique compresses the warp, turning the mid-section of each portrait into an approximation of a waist. The pieces are squeezed in, like folds of flesh that overflow like the distinctive silhouettes of corsets.


Emerson Dorsch Gallery would like to thank Francesco Casale, Bakehouse Art Complex, Juan Gonzalez, Jake Kooser, Sinisa Kukec, and Ema Ri – without your support, this would not be possible.



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