Tibor de Nagy Gallery is pleased to present Joy Episalla – crack fold burn bright, this is the artist's first exhibition with the gallery.
Joy Episalla’s foldtograms—homonym of photograms, photographic prints produced from the darkroom process of camera-less photography—are agents of change.
Sheets and rolls of photographic papers are first exposed to—corralled with and contend with—light. They are then submerged in photo chemical baths in what Episalla calls “the wrong order,” against the standard darkroom sequence of developer-stop-fix-wash. As the neologism of foldtograms suggests, each print is a pliant forward-motion of articulation and re-articulation, of what the future holds, and holding within it, its futures.
During and after exposure to light and photographic chemicals, Episalla performs various actions of folding, creasing, and manipulating the paper. She routes the liquid chemicals through their undulation in trays and troughs. The paper is then further transformed during its various stages of wetness and dryness, through additional folds and creases, and by challenging the paper’s structural integrity beyond its surface, revealing its substrates through compressing, cracking, and singeing the paper, as well as buffing its matte surface or dulling its sheen.
It was not and never will be a blank slate.
Foldtograms seep in between states, engaging the mutability of the paper itself. The wrangling, entangling, and wrestling of time and material-wrought invocations: flashes, fleshes, synapses, lightnings, blood vessels, tributaries, rivulets, parched lands, cellular mapping, pauses, thought processes, moods, still frames, composites, scenarios, energy fields, temperature changes, flatness, volume, wet patches, and dry spaces. foldtogram (35'2.5” x 44"- August 2018) further pushes its limit as a static work. Made from an entire roll of photographic paper, it occupies and works with space. It morphs from one exhibition instance to the next. It has spanned the wall, laid flat askant on the ground, folded onto itself, as well as installed half hinged on the wall and draped onto the ground—a scene that suggests something about to happen, or an aftermath where something might happen once again. Rather than being in limbo, it sits in a limbic state. Each instance is to be considered on its own terms and altogether as interrelated shifts, as proofs of life and of living. The iterations tether the what-happened and the what’s-next to make legible a present that stays put, for now. The thin thickness of the paper can hold an expanse, “carrying its histories,” as Episalla states, where “each iteration is a new future.” They are propositional, and make relations their mode of being; opening out, in, and to–making space within space, making time within time, and making do with what we have and more than what we are given. Unsettling permanence, they insist on the ever-shifting.
— Jo-ey Tang
Jo-ey Tang is a Hong Kong-born American curator, artist, writer, in non-hierarchical order.
Joy Episalla repositions the photographic and video/moving image into the territory of sculpture. Since the 1980s, Episalla has exhibited widely in the United States and Europe, including solo exhibitions at Participant, Inc., NYC; International Center of Photography, NYC; and Galerie Joseph Tang, Paris. Their work has been featured in exhibitions including Greater New York, MoMA/PS1; Artists Space, NYC; ICA Philadelphia; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Centrale for Contemporary Art in Belgium. They are the recipient of a 2003 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award. Episalla is a founding member of the queer art collective fierce pussy. Upcoming exhibitions include Joy Episalla: (De)constructing the Everyday at the Chazen Museum of Art, Wisconsin from August 2022 to July 2023, and their work will be included in arms ache avid aeon: Nancy Brooks Brody / Joy Episalla / Zoe Leonard / Carrie Yamaoka: fierce pussy amplified: chapter 7 at Palais de Tokyo, Paris in February 2023.
A publication will accompany the exhibition with essays by Jill H. Casid and Jo-ey Tang. Stay tuned for the launch date.