Beverly Semmes presents the glaringly vacant sartorial trappings of presumably female twins. Both partners and competitors, Semmes’s twins are presented in the same colors but in opposite configurations. Two figures, nearly identical: are they the opposite sides of each other, good and evil, or do both lay somewhere in between?
The beyond-human scale of the dresses aggressively towers over viewers, demanding to be acknowledged and examined. The boxy, nearly flat abstracted forms draw attention to the body’s absence and remind us of the weight with which dress informs identity and influences our assumptions about others. Further, each set of stretched-out arms, linked together without end, deny access and suggest a self-contained feminine space. The floating dresses with their earthbound arms connect the transcendent to the terrestrial. Can we exist on two planes, two sides of ourselves or even two sides of the world?
From the exhibition: Other Side:
Art, Object, Self (August 12, 2017 – January 3, 2018)
Beverly Semmes creates textile sculptures, clay and crystal vessels, drawings, collages, prints, performance, photography, and video. In her installations, Semmes often mixes and combines these media, as in 2011’s Feminist Responsibility Project, which featured altered pornographic images, a massive white cloud of fabric, video, and performance.
In the early 1990s Semmes became well known for sculptures that evoke oversized garments, most commonly clothing designed for women. Created out of organza, velvet, tulle, chiffon, lamé, mohair, flannel, and cashmere, Semmes’s sculptures took a common design—the dress—and twisted it into surreal proportions. Hung from the wall and cascading onto the floor, Semmes’s sculptures have conjured an array of interpretations, from what one critic called clothing for “giant children or some obscure yet modernized cult of goddess worship,“ to a more pointed sociocultural critique of how clothing and fashion project and reinforce ideas of femininity and beauty.
From the exhibition: One Work (January 25 – June 1, 2014)
From the exhibition: About Sculpture (June 26, 2004 – January 2, 2005)