Slow Stretch at Mana Contemporary

Slow Stretch is the unearthing of seemingly mistaken photographs and discarded science projects. Beautifully displayed on parallel stands or tacked to the walls, the work of Eileen Rae Walsh and Sarah and Joseph Belknap move you through the gallery causing you to think about the approaching spring, how asphalt feels under your feet, and perceived organized mess.

It’s difficult (and unnecessary) to talk about the artists who made the photographs, sculptures, and installation separately. Their placement and comingling convey their desire to be considered as one. Just let the work move you. Walk along the outside of the two floor panels holding the bulk of the work near the floor. Consider their height, the ease they offer to lean over and investigate the works presented. The white of the gallery, the floor, and the panels are the sterile, clean slates for debris and curved edges of the works to stand out against. Think about walking between the floor panels and then hesitate. Your body might not be meant for that entry point. Crumbling deteriorations are playful gestures rather than install mistakes. An image of wet hair dripping on a bare back lives comfortably next to cool metal arms holding black, rock-like sculptures. Viewing them seems cold, keeping you at a distance, reminding you that this is their space not yours.

Placement, color, and study excite at a pace the title suggests as the works range from gritty to saccharine. Large woven rubber strands on the wall resemble the lanyards we made as kids. The hot pinks and greens we wove displace themselves into the images and images blur like the night we had our first drink. The mess of life events and chemistry on display is deflated and saturated. These open vitrines allow study and imposition of the personal. Life, and the materials in it, is frantic, collaborative, and futile but the language in which the works display these feelings elegantly remind us we’d have it no other way.

As if the space itself wasn’t enticing enough, a publication is available to remind you of what you’ve seen and encourage your return. For some, three issues were received by mail leading up to the exhibition. For others, the three can be purchased at once in the gallery. The artists offer mementos wrapped neatly with interviews and passages of process. Relics of their collaboration take the form of a photogram, poster, and tack for your assemblage pleasure. If the show itself does not permanently engrain into your mind, these objects offered will. A new memory to recall in this wintery Chicago haze.

Slow Stretch will be open at Mana Contemporary until April 3 rd . Please see Third Object’s website for more information:

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