Joey Fauerso: Wait for It, Visual Arts Center, The University of Texas at Austin, September 24 - December 3, 2021. All Photos: Sandy Carson.
This exhibition is part of the Visual Arts Center's participation in the Feminist Art Coalition, a nationwide platform for art projects aimed at generating awareness of feminist thought, experience, and action.
Joey Fauerso: Wait For It
“The frame is by the room it is in. And by the doorway through which we enter the room, and by the rooms to any side of it and the rooms beyond those. And by the gallery building, and by what’s outside it, a park maybe, and a city and the country and a world. Which also holds other cities, other galleries, other rooms and other frames. It’s all a matter of perspective: it depends on where you stand.” – Vona Groarke, Four Sides Full (2018)
As a poet—and, more specifically, as a poet with a deep interest in ekphrasis, which generally refers to poetry written in response to visual art—I was thrilled to consider how Joey Fauerso’s new body of work pushes back at Classical—and often gendered—ekphrastic notions of stillness and action, intimacy and distance, control and chaos, and even of time and space.
Fauerso created this new work primarily during the recent months of isolation and lockdown, a time which made so many of us feel trapped, and thus—or so this exhibition suggests—made us all into women, at least historically speaking—which is to say stuck at home, waiting for something to happen to us.
But these bodies refuse to passively hold still and be gazed upon. One appears gigantic inside the room that holds her, her reclined shape creating an alternate horizon, a body becoming terrain. Others crawl in and out of the scenes, naked on all fours, breasts dangling, vulnerable and predatory. As if entering a cave? Or maybe they are the cave, preparing to be entered? Or else attempting to escape from the house that is the world already on fire?
Even the frames question their own associations with stasis, containment, clarity and closure. They take up four dimensions. They cast shadows. They argue for the plurality of every narrative. Depending where you begin to look, there is always more than one story being told.
Of course, to “frame” also means to “set up,” to make another appear guilty of a crime they didn’t commit; and these bodies resist this sort of framing of the feminine as well—refusing to be proper, or property. Ultimately, as with poems, the silence around the object becomes an equal subject, the space one might translate as the possibility of imagination.
It has been said that the ekphrastic encounter “completes” the art, but that suggests a certainty on the part of the viewer; and each time I return to this work, I find it, and myself, changed.
– Jenny Browne 2021
Joey Fauerso: Wait for It
Joey Fauerso’s practice privileges experimentation, process, and play. Working across a wide range of media and employing techniques that upend traditional modes of art-making, her work opens onto complex questions of identity, gender, and representation. Fauerso draws inspiration from her personal life and experiences, often including family, friends, and peers as her subjects and collaborators. Her works are intimate, thoughtful, and imbued with a sense of humor, reveling in the absurd while fostering candor with the viewer. Fauerso strikes a delicate balance in this way, with work that is witty and lighthearted yet also thoughtful, poignant, introspective, and, at times, provocative.
Wait for It includes a selection of Fauerso’s recent paintings and monoprints, ranging from intimate portraits to mural-sized abstractions, alongside a four-channel video installation made in her San Antonio studio and at a residency in Berlin. You Destroy Every Special Thing I Make (2017–2019) transforms the artist’s workspaces into sites for destruction and reconstruction, with Fauerso’s two sons, their friends, and other performers employing clever methods to tear down a series of black and white installations for the camera’s lens. Centering the role of play—and the act of letting go—in the creative process, this work invites us to watch and wait as the artist’s sculptural tableaus topple and crash to the ground.
A single nude figure reclines flat on her back in The Waiting Room (2020), though for whom or what she waits is left open-ended. Fauerso’s compositions often resist straightforward interpretation, leaving viewers to complete the narrative. As they rest, crawl, linger, and gaze thoughtfully outward, there is a sense that these figures are lost in reflection or engaged in quiet reverie—dwelling in the in-between moments that define our lives, awaiting what’s to come.
Joey Fauerso: Wait for It is supported, in part, by Suzanne Deal Booth, Jeanne and Michael L. Klein, and Fluent~Collaborative.