A Sieve for Infinity

The works gathered together in A Sieve for Infinity abstract, fragment, and accumulate: A murmuration of paint drops, a trussing of horsehide and metal, a tapestry chronicling genesis and apocalypse.

The artists selected for the exhibition test materials and technology, both traditional and modern, incorporating handcrafted and industrial production. Analia Saban extends a lineage of conceptual art. Yeni Mao breaks camp from a modernist architectural practice. Jovencio de la Paz blurs the line between creativity and computation.

The loom is one of the precursors to modern computing technology, and the singular history of the Institute for Advanced Study computer is a starting point for Jovencio de la Paz’s series Bionumeric Organisms, produced on a digital loom. Employed to calculate ballistics for American nuclear weapons in the 1940s, the IAS computer was subsequently used to model how singlecelled organisms evolve and survive disaster. Adapting software from the latter program, de la Paz visualizes the self-generating patterns of growth and decay through textiles. And to construct the Didderen series, the artist gave a computer “vast fields of unweavable information”1 which de la Paz’s software interpreted as errors and tried to fix, filling in the gaps algorithmically. The result of both bodies of work is dense textile abstractions that are collaborations between the artist and the computer.

While de la Paz obfuscates the distinction between maker and tool, Analia Saban subverts the relationship between material and surface. In her Flare Up series, the artist pushes paint through the back of stretched linen canvases. Depending on the pressure applied, the works look like a scattering of beads across a surface, Ben-Day dots of an abstract expressionist comic book, or an inky morass seething through a threadbare screen. Part of her long investigation into art-making processes, materials, and art historical traditions, the paintings are orchestrated unpredictability. “I do think a lot of my work has to do with destruction but also fixing things, or trying to weave things – or keep things – together,” Saban said in a New York Times interview in 2017,2 while recalling the impact the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy, located around the corner of her elementary school in Buenos Aires, had on her.

Departing from the “dogma of architectural modernism”3 he was steeped in during the early part of his career, Yeni Mao considers how architecture holds memory and emotions. With fig 25.8 automatic, Mao connects spiritually with another builder in his family: his grandfather, who was part of a Chinese immigrant community in Borneo. During World War II, his grandfather’s village was occupied by Imperial Japanese forces and the family fled to shelter with the Bidayuh, their allies and the Indigenous people of the region. After returning to the destroyed village, the grandfather and fellow villagers dismantled the still-standing schoolhouse piece by piece and reassembled it in another location allocated by the Malaysian government. Mao’s kinetic sculpture lives within this cycle of fracturing and healing (differently, imperfectly), which also speaks to generational trauma, immigration, and dislocation. For this exhibition, Mao will unveil a new suspended sculpture.

Taken all together, the works in A Sieve for Infinity encourage shifting perspectives and moving forward — with clarity around the past – generating new possibilities. The materials here have agency, and a well of intensity bubbles under a veneer of restraint. This is a controlled violence: creation out of destruction, an aesthetic of resilience.

—Astria Suparak

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