The World and Other Worlds
by Mariam Stephan
January 15th – February 9th
Opening: February 2nd, 6pm – 9pm
Readings from Jeff Jones and Peter Gengler begins at 6:30pm
“A work of art is a corner of the Creation seen through a temperament.” Emile Zola c. 1866
Through fractured shapes and spaces, Mariam Stephan paints shanty vessels, huddled forms, broken pylons. These imagined landscapes piece together scenes of conflict, abandonment and disarray. They explore conditions of hovering, disconnect, and anticipation. Both her parents were refugees, her mother from conflict-ridden Afghanistan, her father from Communist East Germany. Her parents physical and psychological displacement impacted the world they constructed and perceived. Thus, their circumstances, although she did not experience them, are interconnected with her own.
Using split-level structures that depict scenes of lifeboats cracked in half, fractured piers and scaffolding, or huddled shapes trying to escape or hide, Stephan shows an abiding sense of helplessness in the face of death. In these reconstructed landscapes that link ecological and psychological upheaval, she explores the enormity and power of disruptive forces past and present tense. And when facing an aftermath we pause and wonder what kind of world will be constructed next.
The title of the show is taken from the name of a collection of essays by Jeanette Winterson.
Opening Reception Guests:
Jeff Jones is an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His research includes, Putting the Pieces Back Together: Postwar Reconstruction in a Comparative Perspective, an edited anthology comparing the process of rebuilding in different societies and different time periods after major wars; and War Stories: Tales from the Soviet Union’s “Greatest Generation.”
Peter Gengler is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research broadly focuses on East and West German cultural memories of war and dictatorship. He is currently completing his dissertation, ‘Flight and Expulsion’: Expellee Victimhood Narratives and Memory Politics in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1944-1990.