Body, Behavior and more.
Primarily working with ceramics, New York-based artist Julia Phillips creates objects and scenes that are immediately connected to the body. Her sculptures often propose various support structures for the human form, while emphasizing its absence. Impression of the body are visible through casts of limbs, orifices, handprints, and other corporeal traces. Though evocative of physical functions, these works also produce social and psychological resonances. For Phillips, the body is materially, linguistically, and metaphorically entangled in politics, as suggested by terms such as “manipulator,””protector,” and “extruder” that appear in the title of her works. Directives for specific actions of constraining, armoring, or penetrating the body, they hint at how formal arrangements double as relations of power.
The exhibition’s title provides a narrative framework within which Phillips’s works can be seen as tools for diagnosing or preventing perceived physical or social malfunctions. The works foster ambiguity around this operation, questioning the criteria for failure, what should be done with its detection, and who might administer the remedy. The exhibition includes new and existing sculptures alongside a series of prints and a newly produced video, which features a closely cropped body struggling to move. The explicit tension that arises from the video recurs throughout Phillips’s practice, where highly specific bodily contortions register abstract forces whose power is nonetheless certain.
Julia Phillips lives and works in New York City. She has been included in group exhibitions at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; The Kitchen, New York; and Kunsthaus, Hamburg. She was recently featured in the New Museum’s 2018 Triennial, Songs for Sabotage, and is currently included in the 10th Berlin Biennale.
Julia Phillips: Failure Detection is organized by Ruba Katrib, Curator, MoMA PS1, with Josephine Graf, Curatorial Assistant, MoMA PS1.
All photos © Mu Yiran