Firelands Association for the Visual Arts (FAVA)

Is a body an archive? Can an archive be embodied?

At the gallery at the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts (FAVA), an independent art non-profit in Oberlin founded in 1979, FRONT 2022 will present new work by Alexandria Couch and Joe Namy.

Akron-born Couch presents a series of new paintings, using found materials like recycled thread, fabric, and paper scraps to create intimate depictions of fragmented bodies that explore the relationship of blackness to its environment. “Shapeshifting becomes the routine,” she writes. “To strip down constantly and rebuild becomes easier than wearing the same clothes. Change is comfortable. Change is necessary to live between worlds.” Embodying both power and vulnerability, these figures are one way Couch explores the uncomfortable duality of Black bodies and their surroundings.

Namy’s installation Sets for a Song (2022) is part of his ongoing engagement with the life and oeuvre of legendary composer, musician, ethnomusicologist, and teacher Halim El Dabh (born 1921 in Cairo; died 2017 in Kent, OH). A pioneer of electroacoustic music, El Dabh taught at Kent State University for many decades and frequently performed across Northeast Ohio. Resurrecting a forgotten moment in the history of the postwar American avant-garde, Namy’s installation focuses on an original score El Dabh composed for choreographer Martha Graham's 1958 ballet Clytemnestra, for which sculptor Isamu Noguchi designed the sets. The installation includes selections from El Dabh’s personal papers and documentation of the production from the Graham and Noguchi archives, alongside Namy’s own reconstruction of what he calls a “collaborative communion” between these artists. The installation complements the artist’s Songs for a Set (2022), a series of performances at Noguchi’s Portal (1976) in downtown Cleveland.

In their own distinct ways, Couch and Namy both envision bodies as essentially performative, as ever-changing sites of becoming rather than being, where identities are imagined, disassembled, and reconstructed and where history can be remembered or forgotten.

Alongside Couch and Namy, FAVA presented work by Tony Cokes, whose art appears in multiple FRONT venues.

Alexandria Couch, Installation View at Firelands Association for the Visual Arts. Courtesy of the artist. © Alexandra Couch. Photography by Field Studio.

Presented by The Eric & Jane Nord Family Fund and The Nord Family Foundation.

39 S Main St #210
OH 44074
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