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Body Memory

February 3 – February 25, 2023

Nicki Cherry, Calli Roche, Bianca Abdi-Boragi, Kyoko Hamaguchi, Yvonne Shortt.

[New York] GHOSTMACHINE Gallery is pleased to present its inaugural group exhibition “Body Memory” featuring the work of Nicki Cherry, Calli Roche, Bianca Abdi-Boragi, Kyoko Hamaguchi, and Yvonne Shortt.

Body memory is a hypothesis that the body itself is capable of storing memories, as opposed to only the brain. Conceptually, body memory is defined as the sum of all past bodily experiences that are stored in memory and influence behavior. Body memories, therefore, comprise corporeal experiences of the past that can be explicit but also implicit, not easily accessible to conscious reflection. This exhibition discusses the concept of body memory from an artist’s perspective. Five artists approach the topic from different angles: as a direct reference to a body responding to a trauma injury, through a historic trauma, collective memories of ancestral gestures and values, experiencing another person’s perspective, or as a conscious body overcoming patterns of behavior. 

After the flame, after the pain by Nicki Cherry features a bronze cast of a half-melted candle in the shape of her own injured spine, cast from the artist’s 2021 sculpture Coping Mechanism. Cherry’s sculptures embody the turmoil that comes with having a body—such as chronic pain, illness, dysmorphia, and anxiety—in an attempt to make these experiences less lonely. The heaviness and durability of the bronze cast reflect the weight of chronic pain and how it leaves a permanent mark on the body. 

Our bodies remember trauma and abuse — quite literally. They respond to new situations with strategies learned during moments that were terrifying or life-threatening. Our bodies remember the need to protect themselves from perceived threats.

Calli Roche’s piece “Breastplate of Righteousness” speaks to ancestral resilience. This artwork is part of a series of works presented as the by-product of the somatic healing the artist has derived from object-making, reclaiming the biblical armor of God as a framework. This piece combines references to 16-century pair of bodies worn by European royalty at the outset of the transatlantic slave trade and bulletproof vests worn by modern-day law enforcement. 

On the other hand, Bianca Abdi-Boragi’s painting Montreuil’s waters is inspired by the Montreuil flea market, like a souk in Paris that sells clothes and fabrics. Most people who go there are migrants. “We go there for the cheap clothes and the North-African food stands. People search through vast piles of clothes, like a big ocean we’re all part of; it’s a collective, effervescent activity.” Abdi-Boragi. The artist bought traditional Amazigh fabric and designed gloves to create this composition. While this piece addresses collective body memory, consumption, and sartorial appearances, it’s also a poetic approach to the act of searching.

In Sight Condenser, contact lenses float in their cases as if ready to be worn. Each lens carries a drawing of scenery that artist Kyoko Hamaguchi experienced while wearing them. Seemingly two copies of the same image, each drawing is actually offset as the right and left eyes see slightly different views, offering viewers the chance to see through the artist’s eyes. 

Through her terracotta sculpture Ego, Yvonne Shortt is investigating what is required to overcome engraved behavioral patterns. In a hostile environment the body must adapt – says Ms. Shortt. Because the ego perceives resources are scarce it adapts. It wants to be the best, make others feel lesser than others, be closed-minded, and not care about those who can’t help it succeed. It desires selectivity which leads to exclusivity and the desire to be part of the hierarchical power structure.

Artist Biographies

Nicki Cherry is an artist based in New York and Chicago. Cherry’s monstrous fiberglass and concrete sculptures incorporate active systems of growth and decay—tulips bloom from stretching tendrils, ceramic bodies leak milky fluids, spine-shaped candles burn, and diffuse scent. Their work embraces the awkward and absurd to explore the frequent discomfort that comes with being a body. After initially studying to become a particle physicist, Cherry received their BA from the University of Chicago in 2014 and their MFA from Yale School of Art in 2019. Their work has been exhibited at the Border Project Space, Flux Factory, the Boiler at ELM Foundation, and Shin Gallery in New York; AUTOMAT and Icebox Project Space in Philadelphia; and the Reva David Logan Center for the Arts, and Slate Arts and Performance in Chicago. They have received grants from Café Royal Cultural Foundation, the Queens Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Cherry was a 2022 AIM Fellow at the Bronx Museum of Arts. They will present a solo exhibition at NARS Foundation in Brooklyn in Spring 2023.

Calli Roche, She/They (b.1990, Nashville Tennessee) is an American artist and patternmaker based in Brooklyn, New York. Calli comes from a long line of dressmakers, tailors, and artisans from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. Much of their work is rooted in the ability to create a well-constructed object. Using practical skills, developed out of necessity, she creates artifacts to instantiate socio-political stream-of-consciousness narratives.

Frequently working with reclaimed objects (wood, skins, and textiles), the materials take on varied ontological significance in each piece, yet frequently reference the fraught relationships between violence, identity, and sexuality while also aiming to disrupt western distinctions between art and craft and create space for Black mediocrity as a site of critique. They have studied and worked in Fiji, France, and the United States. Their work has been exhibited at Galerie Perrotin in New York, Galerie Kandlhofer in Vienna, The Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia, and Housing Gallery in New York City. Calli was a recipient of the NYFA/NYSCA Artist Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Work in 2020. They were a 2021 Artist in Residence at Field Projects Gallery and are a current Artist in Residence at the Artist Alliance’s Lower East Side Studio program.

Kyoko Hamaguchi, born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, is a conceptual mixed-media artist who lives and works in New York City. By utilizing her daily experiences and communication systems and tools in society, she is constantly searching for ways to invent transient images and shapes to reflect her ever-shifting perspective as an immigrant. Her practice takes form in many different media including photography, sculpture, and installation. She holds an MFA from Hunter College in New York (2020) and a BFA from Tokyo University of the Arts (2015). She participated in a residency at the Watermill Center in 2021 and will participate in a residency at Light Work in 2023. She has shown in numerous group exhibitions including at Off Paradise, New York; Regular Normal, New York; Christie’s, New York; SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2018, 2019, and 2020, Asia Culture Center, Korea; New York; Museum of Modern Art, Gunma, Japan; and Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo. She has had solo exhibitions at ATM Gallery, New York; KOKI ARTS, Tokyo; F2T Gallery, Milan; and The Border Project Space, New York.

Bianca Abdi-Boragi works across media using sculpture, video, installation, and painting to enact representations of self and others, often using found materials and landscapes as receptacles to address different states of being, with a specific focus on alienation and territory.  Tending towards the absurd though with care and respect, her works respond to the contemporary political and social environment in the United States, France, and Algeria, engaging with themes of gender, subsistence, and migration while linking this moment to the historical repercussions of post-colonialism.

Bianca Abdi-Boragi is a French-Algerian/ American artist born and raised in Paris, France, who received her BFA from ENSAPC (Paris) and her MFA from Yale School of Art, Sculpture in 2017. Abdi-Boragi has been living in New York since 2010. Currently in residency at Pioneer Works her shows were featured on Hyperallergic, Artnet, Artspiel, ANTE mag, Taggverk Magazine, among others. Solo exhibitions include the Border Project Space Gallery and CADAF Art Fair, she has exhibited with SPRING/BREAK Art Show, at Central Park Tower, the Flux Factory, Heaven Gallery Chicago, the Immigrant Artist Biennial, NARS Foundation, The Border Project Space, VCU Arts, NURTUREart Gallery, Chashama Gallery, Field Project Gallery, Galerie Protégé, throughout the United States and internationally and has screened art films at Anthology Film Archive, UnionDocs, Video Revival, NY, the Whitney Humanity Center, and Loria Center, New Haven, CT. Abdi-Boragi was the recipient of the JUNCTURE Fellowship in Art and International Human Rights from the Yale Law School and was recently in residency at NARS Foundation and previously at MASS MoCA’s studios, the Centquatre, Paris, France, Pact Zollverein, Essen, Germany, CalArts, Los Angeles.

Yvonne Shortt is a question-based artist with a practice spanning sculpture, built environments, movement, video, and healing. Some of Ms.Shortt’s current projects include designing and building The Museum For Contemporary Artists, African American Marbleization: An Act of Civil Disobedience, Get The Art Out community game, Be the Museum, Headdresses & Garments, and The Lotto Verses Grant Writing. 

Ms. Shortt is a member of A.I.R. Gallery where she incubates new projects focused on looking critically and humorously at hierarchical systems and the scarcity mindset. In her role as the co-founder of Research & Development within the gallery, she focuses on changing herself with the belief that everyone is connected. Therefore, when she changes, so do others.

Ms. Shortt does not name her awards, grants, or residencies; believing what matters in her practice is focusing on the work.

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