top of page

Voice, Gesture,
Line & Shadow

"Mutualism" by Eileen O’Kane Kornreich and gigi murray at the Active Space Gallery was a performance piece part of the one-night event On The Edge of The Infinite, curated by Laura Horne, Steven Pestana, and Sophia Sobers, characterized by sound(voice), movement(gesture), line, and shadows.

by Kun Kyung Sok, May 28, 2024

Her muse, gigi, recites their poetry, and Kornreich draws lines on large paper taped to the wall in response to the rhythm and emotion of the poetry. Spotlights placed behind the artist in the dark space created ever-changing shadows. The language written on the paper transformed into sound, the movements synchronized with the sounds, the line drawings made according to the movements, and the shadows cast by the movements all come together to create a beautiful and multidimensional tapestry within a single space.

For Kornreich, lines are important. A line is the simplest and most clear mark connecting one point to another. Lines are created in a single stroke without multiple overlays. They break down three-dimensionality and illusion, making boundaries clear. Traditionally, in Asia, lines are significant in painting. Painting captures the subject's essence, and lines represent the link between the finite world and the infinite world beyond, often considered an extension of writing. Kornreich's line drawings visualizing poetry consist of large, rough black and blue lines occasionally mixed with yellow, these lines stretch long across the large paper, making irregular spiral circles, lines that appear to be broken but reconnected, or lines that appear to be connected but are then broken again. The poetry written on the paper by gigi transforms into their voice and then is rewritten in lines and colors by Kornreich's hand. This cycle of poetry going from paper to mouth and back from hand to paper transcends the simple dichotomy of language and drawing, resulting in a composite aesthetic experience.

Shadows constantly move and change over the boundaries and negative spaces these lines create. Depending on the artist's movements, the shadows form shapes of her body or unidentifiable forms. They expand monstrously beyond the paper, with the shadows of her arms or legs enlarging, and sometimes only the shadow of her head (changing size). gigi's shadows are even more intriguing. The shadow of gigi holding their written poem extends forward like a warrior's sword. The combined shadows of Kornreich and gigi resemble a four-legged creature. Most shadows extend beyond the paper's frame, seemingly breaking the dichotomous boundaries of the inside and the outside, as well as art and non-art. The play of light and shadow recalls Kara Walker's work, which addresses race and identity through silhouettes. Still, Kornreich's performance transcends the binary of light and shadow by combining language, voice, line, silhouette, and the artist's gestures to convey layered narratives. This exploration delves into the dualities inherent in our lives, such as gender, personality, and relationships, provocatively and profoundly.

This performance emphasizes the theme of mutual dependence and influence, which permeates the entire exhibition. Born in 1955, Kornreich belongs to a generation of women and female artists who experienced conflict between patriarchal traditional education and the new ideology of feminism. Most intellectual women of that time were constantly confused between being docile and feminine and being free and progressive. It felt as if one had to choose between being male or female and think and act accordingly. The various oppressions and confusions Kornreich experienced as a woman naturally might make her feel a sense of solidarity and empathy with others who identify as women. She draws them and collaborates with them. Her approach to handling them as a subject is very interesting. 

According to her interview with Tussle Magazine about her previous exhibition, “Pleasures of Duality”, she had an art education based on the traditional male perspective. However, the exhibition follows her feminist tendency to reimagine the depiction of the female body by male artists like Gauguin and David Salle, as nonbinary and male-presenting forms. It seems she strives to harmonize or resolve her traditional influences with her progressive beliefs. Kornreich appears to be attempting to transcend her time's inherent limitations and dichotomous thinking by integrating and reinterpreting her artistic lineage from a feminist perspective. The interdisciplinary complex boundaries and ever-changing lines and shadows revealed in this performance demonstrate her effort to break away from traditional fixed identities, offering an integrated artistic experience that transcends simple dichotomies. This experience opens new perspectives and senses for the audience, deconstructing fixed meanings and identities, and opening up the possibility for diverse interpretations.

bottom of page