A blush, a flush, a fever, a command at Temple Contemporary, Philadelphia, PA
Muza’s textiles field a dance of image and word, articulating a sensual, multilayered relationship between the poetic, the visual, and the tactile. Inspired by the lives of early 20th century queer artists and the writing of French authors and philosophers, such as Georges Bataille and his Visions of Excess, Muza is interested in finding beauty among the uncomfortable, the grotesque, and the unexpected. In their textiles, images that are barely discernible at first glance seem to come into sharper focus the longer the viewer sits with the work. With sensuous and dreamlike wefts of pink, burgundy, purple, celeste, and hazy off-white, the works give rare moments of clarity to visceral, almost indescribable vignettes: fleeting images of play violence among animals, a glass of wine carefully and dutifully refilled, the feeling of falling in love. Muza’s approach to weaving highlights and heightens the dimensionality of the textile. It is a medium that in other circumstances, the artist recognizes, could easily lend itself to “safer” modes of viewing and interpretation – hung on a wall like a painting, a flat surface where the topography of overlapping brush strokes strain all too often against the limitations of canvases and frames. But that is not the case here. Though Muza begins the creation of each new object with a rough idea in mind, the initial step in their process is the digital encoding of an abstract pattern of black and white pixels, which oftentimes bears scant resemblance to the final work born from the Jacquard loom. The artist allows for the machine to select certain threads to be elevated during the course of the weaving process, altering the image. Abstract digital information turns into something analog, tangible, legible – but never quite in the ame way twice.
Muza embraces these small moments of uncertainty and then frees the object from the wall itself, using the textiles from their loom almost as a scaffolding for more nuanced theorizations – borne out in their practice – on the capability of image, text, and weave to mutually support each other. To this end, one textile encoded with the image of a small, yappy dog also includes an excerpt from an interview with the Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela in the magazine View on Colour, in which he muses on the evocative byproducts of the creative process: “What is red? A blush, a flush, a fever, a command… What is texture? A result of time.”
Excerpt from text by Li Machado