"I found a dead bee at my front door just before I met her,” — Sarah Halpern, 2022. Watercolor, graphite, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 14 x 20 1/2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Microscope Gallery, New York.
September 7 – October 14, 2023 On view at Microscope, 525 West 29th St. 2nd Floor, NY, NY 10001
Microscope Gallery is very pleased to present “The Whole Story,” the third solo exhibition at the gallery by New York-based artist Sarah Halpern. In her new series of mixed-media sculptures and works on paper, Halpern excavates themes of emotional inheritance, familial relationships, sexuality, and the unspoken secrets and traumas that quietly infiltrate our personal lives and manifest themselves in our bodies and gestures.
Life-sized sculptures from Halpern’s new series “Outlines” are constructed with shear fabric — frequently hanging from painted copper plumbing pipes — into which a simple shape of a dress has been partially cut out to reveal collages made with thread, tailoring pins, and imagery from pages of 20th and 21st century books encompassing a time span of several generations of a family. The artist’s selection of materials and adroit use of positive and negative space alludes to the hidden functions of the body, the mother/child relationship, internal conflict, and a loss of self control.
“Each ‘dress’ is partially hung to suggest the form of a woman, or a missing woman. Meanwhile the fabric that spills onto the floor is meant to evoke a shadow, an after-image, a trail or a documenting of an event after the fact, like a chalk outline at a crime scene.” — SHIn a new series of works on paper, Halpern combines graphite, colored pencil and watercolor drawings with black and white images extracted from the pages of books about mime, dance, the movements of stage actors, and the meanings of colloquial hand gestures as a way of considering the body in isolation from the voice. Figures within the collages are often missing body parts, thus remaining incomplete. Or, they are composed with combinations of multiple bodies to reference notions of individuality, co-dependency, and group dynamics.
The mechanisms around which home life is organized — such as time, work, and leisure — are the subjects of a series of small-scale sculptures titled “Sundials.” In these works, which are meant to interact with sunlight, drink glasses filled with liquids sit atop of circular bases. These round, clock-like collages are composed by Halpern with images from DIY home improvement books that indicate “efforts to repair, work around and paint over destructive forces in the home.” The beams of light passing through the glass and liquids are reflected and refracted in unpredictable manners, casting shadows and distorting image and text.
About the Artist
Sarah Halpern is an artist working with paper, installation, light, text, sound and performance. Her work has been presented at institutions including The Whitney Museum of American Art’s “Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema & Art, 1905-2016,” The Museum of Moving Image (MoMI), The Kitchen, Anthology Film Archives, Experimental Intermedia, The New York Film Festival (NYFF), and the Pompidou Center, Paris among others. Her work has been discussed in ARTNews, INCITE: Journal of Experimental Media, Rhizome, The Brooklyn Rail, Thirteen.org, and others. She received a BA in Film and Electronic Arts from Bard College and a MacDowell Colony Residency Fellowship. Sarah Halpern was born in Washington DC, and lives and works in New York.