A solo exhibition of London-based artist Ilona Sagar. This new experimental installation includes sound, print and performance and explores the relationship between body, surface and displacement through its manifestation in speech and design.
Ilona Sagar’s multi-faceted practice investigates the social and spatial structures that we negotiate on a daily basis in public spaces such as museums, galleries, churches and theatres, as well as in the virtual realm. Her work responds to the historical and cultural connotations of these domains, exploring the universally recognised codes of conduct that we follow during shared interactions.
‘Mute Rehearsal’ investigates the relationship between body, surface and displacement through its manifestation in speech and design. Sagar explores the cultural obsession we have with how women speak and move. The work hones in on mannerisms and linguistic trends considered undesirable, such as vocal fry – the engagement of the lowest vocal register – which have received negative commentary. These controls that we as a society impose on the female body are multi-layered and complex to unpick.
Sagar looks to online communities that have been set up to ‘help’ women act in a more acceptable and ‘empowered’ manner though voice, body and gesture. The work references fitness blogging and similar online forums focus on the supposed empowerment of scrutinising and analysing the body as the root of one’s identity. Mindful of the disempowerment these attitudes can entail, Sagar approaches the body as an adaptable tool rather than a fixed form. Speech and gesture combine as an interface to examine our multi- faceted relationship to design syntax, as an instance of technology and flesh.
Sagar’s interest in space, layers and transparency carries through and encompasses the different visual imagery, text and sound overlapping in the exhibition space, creating an elaborate layering of bodies, narrative and surface. These visual, habitual and sonic experiences are in a fluid dialogue with each other, creating a muted depiction of speech, misunderstanding and the mouth as a space of consumption and exchange. There is a collision between internal and external languages in design, cognition and the body. The external syntax clashes with an internal language which is messier, more visceral and emotional.
Through the mediums of sound, text and photographic installation, this new body of work seeks to examine the residue left in the wake of our conflicting relationship to both the virtual and physical body.
‘Mute Rehearsal’ is generously supported by Arts Council England. With thanks to Chisenhale Art Place for their additional support.