Paula Wilson Collaboration with iris yirei hu, ARTFORUM Critic’s Pick

September 26, 2019

By Daniel Gerwin


Los Angeles, CA – At the center of iris yirei hu’s installation is a tapestry hanging from a Navajo loom atop clay shards that resemble dry earth mounded over a grave. The woven image is of a weaver, a picture hu pairs with a print of a woman weaving silk (the source image is a Chinese work found in the nineteenth century), which rests on the clay bed. Elsewhere in the gallery is hu’s rendition of an ancient diagram for the development of qi, a practice akin to weaving with life energy instead of with thread. On the wall are two large pictures of flowering yuccas (made in collaboration with Paula Wilson) that involve woodblock prints, cyanotypes, embroidery, and collage. Yucca is used for food, fiber, and medicine; hu’s engagement with it here clarifies her interest in reasserting the symbiotic relationships between humanity and nature that have long existed in some cultures but, due to colonialism and industrialization, are now endangered or extinguished. A nearby compost bucket places these concepts within the larger cycle of life, death, and renewal.

Attached to the ceiling of hu’s installation and flowing into the neighboring room is ivan forde’s ten-yard-long scroll, also concerned with colonialism’s legacy. Made by combining cyanotype, drawing, and painting, the scroll describes an epic journey through sea and sky. Bulls, serpents, and amphorae appear. Male figures (all sourced from photographs of the artist) fall through the sky like Icarus or roam around while making dramatic gestures, evoking Greek mythology. The phrase “Eternity to Season / Wilson Harris” in inscribed on the scroll, referencing the name of a British-Guyanese writer and the title of his 1954 book of poems, in which characters from The Odyssey appear in modern Guyanese villages. Using himself as a model for classical gods and heroes, forde—who, like Harris, was born in Guyana—complicates the power relationships of conquest by remaking Western mythos in his own image.

Los Angeles Visitor Welcome Center
3006 W 7th Street Suite 200A
September 21–October 26, 2019

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