Fuller Rosen Gallery, 1928 NW Lovejoy St, Portland, OR 97209, United States

Devin Harclerode and Laura Camila Medina: Loopholes

Fuller Rosen Gallery

27 August - 1 October 2020

Review by Laurel McLaughlin

Areas of ambiguity and endless possibilities are the grounds from which the two-person exhibition featuring the work of Devin Harclerode and Laura Camila Medina springs. Visible through the front windows of Fuller Rosen Gallery in Northwest Portland, Harclerode’s ‘Beat Curtains’ (all works 2020), featuring resin and epoxy dyed beads that dissipate down their strands into snippets of hair, hint at the hybrid nostalgic-mythic-atemporal worlds that await visitors.

A blend of partial occlusion and transparency in both Medina’s hand-dyed silk monotypes and Harclerode’s acid-dyed silk curtains play with the connotations of loopholes. From the peripheries of Medina’s papier-mâché sculptures, other worlds take nebulous shape. ‘Como Abrir el Alma Para Dejar Volar,’ ‘Pato en el Lago,’ and ‘Ella lo Recuerda Todo’ (all 2020), depicting a heart-shaped soul floating among the clouds, a mirror with inscriptions, and a cow painted with clouds, catalyse the viewer’s dream-like encounter with the embodied and speculative histories of these hand-made works. Their indentations, much like the delicate brushstrokes on Medina’s hanging banner-like monotypes, gesture towards soft worlds—multiple, floating, and cushioned among past, present, and future. The silken procession of banners, like figments of imagination, lead to a floral mural—‘Do you stop to smell the flowers?’—that encircles Medina’s VR video space titled ‘Recordar es Construir,’ (‘to remember is to build’). Comprised of watercolour paintings, drawings, papier mâché sculptures, soft sculptures, 3D scans of objects, animations, video collage, and photographs, the work mobilises the nostalgic effects of Medina’s sculptural and monotype pieces alongside visions of the past and future. In the environment of a garden, the video zooms in on 3D renderings of the sculptural works, teleporting the viewer into interior worlds. One interior world is filled with handwritten letters, family photographs, and the sound of Britney Spears’ song ‘Sometimes,’ while another reveals a “Disneyland” of cultural fragments associated with the artist’s Colombian heritage within the landscape of the United States accompanied by the backing track ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ by Shakira. The final interior space emanates from a sculpture depicting a heart-shaped soul and narrates a future without borders—a desire that recurs through Medina’s animated, sculptural, and silken visions.

Drawing upon research in Utah, Harclerode’s video and curtain works invite and simultaneously veil speculative contemplation concerning reproductive justice and right-wing conspiracy theories. ‘Speculative Curtains (silphium)’ and ‘Practical Curtains (mifepristone)’ refer obliquely to ancient aphrodisiacs and birth control methods, as well as modern abortion-inducing medications. The neon yellow curtains, washed in flame-like acid-orange dyes and stitched in labyrinthine patterns that seem to fracture like glitches, partially obstruct views of the videos ‘Absent Menstruation’ and ‘For Rebecca,’ relegating the works to an interior womb-like arc in the centre of the gallery. At the same time, the sheerness of the curtains entices the eye towards ‘Absent Menstruation:’ a mythical, how-to video that explains how to acquire alternative access to abortion care beyond the neo-liberal and patriarchal healthcare system in the United States. Zooming from the close-up of a face to a Siemens ultrasound monitor showing the interior of a uterus, the video associates the mouth with the womb as a voiceover explains the materials and mindset for the alternative abortion process. The sounds of heartbeats are interchanged with clanging metal as oysters and chicken eggs exchange hands, and the video progresses, while a figure on a gurney births a monstrous green tentacular form that seems to represent the shadow of a healthcare alternative currently unavailable to many. Opposite, the video ‘For Rebecca’ offers a counterbalance. A meditative silence permeates the Utah desert hosting static shots of a lone paper prescription blowing in the wind, a heating pad with no power source, a box of Miso Kare (a drug to induce abortion), and an “Anti-preg kit.” Cast in the proverbial desert, the products seem mirage-like. Their solitary positions on the barren flats render them unattainable, projecting the current twisted myth of women’s health in the United States, while also providing the phantasm of the desired care we wish were reality.

Between the spaces of Medina’s Colombian and American cultural heritage and Harclerode’s abstractions on reproductive justice, one is caught in an atemporal reverie. In this moment of vast uncertainty, as already inadequate racial and healthcare frameworks in the United States teeter on the brink of collapse, Medina and Harclerode’s loopholes sink deeper, latching onto the discursive, fantastical, and drastic potentialities we so desperately need.

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