Elizabeth Sims | Water Discipline
Thursday, May 26th - Sunday, June 19th
Artist Reception: Friday, June 3rd, 6-9 pm
“I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element…"
Interface gallery is pleased to present Elizabeth Sims’ Water Discipline, a multi-disciplinary exhibition exploring the metaphysical potential of radical activism. Sims presents a series of drawings photographs and an audio piece for this exhibition.
Collectively, the work touches on themes of power, humility and transcendence that are at once universal and deeply personal - having emerged from the challenges and disappointments Sims encountered in her own years of activism in the Bay Area, which culminated with the Occupy movement. Disillusioned by ego-driven interpersonal conflicts that often undermine collective action, Sims embarked on a journey of self-reflection, finding insight and perspective in the natural world.
Three works on paper presented in this exhibition reference geological phenomena Sims encountered in the Sierras during her wilderness sojourns. The drawings are named after radical figures who have retreated and sometimes disappeared into the wilderness. Beautifully rendered, volatile forms suggest the permeability of body and environment, refuting the contemporary logic of the separate self. Their energetic forces suggest ecstatic, even visionary moments.
An audio piece, Testimony, infuses the gallery with stories shared by Bay Area residents of confrontations with power that led to ruptures in their world views and rapturous moments of realization. (A transcription of these stories will be included in a takeaway booklet for visitors to the exhibition).
Finally, Water Discipline, an installation consisting of photographs and objects, documents the artist’s practice of walking through Oakland while carrying a stone in her mouth. The practice draws upon the folklore of wilderness survival, which counsels that sucking on a rock may quench one's thirst, and deliver one through a landscape of deprivation. Early desert ascetics also carried pebbles in their mouths as an imposition of silence- learning the stillness and selflessness of stone.
Sims writes, “Following years of intense community activism, the practice is restorative, allowing me to step back in the wake of failure and frustration, and simply bear witness, in an exercise of humility.”
Through this work, Sims seems to explore the wreckage of her own encounters with activism “...to see the damage that was done - and the treasures that prevail."
- quotes from Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich.