- Michelle Segre
Transmitters & Receivers
October 16th, 2021 — January 16th, 2022
Michelle Segre was born in Tel Aviv in 1965. She moved to New York in 1970 and graduated from Cooper Union in 1987. She works in a studio in the Bronx and shows regularly at the Derek Eller gallery, among many other venues worldwide. Her work resides in the collections of the New Museum, MoMA, and the Tang Teaching Museum in Sarasota Springs.
Her art, however, seems to hail from a universe slightly adjacent to these places and dates. It’s a universe similar to ours, but different, too, a place of many gods and many dimensions, lanced by quasars, perforated by tesseracts, populated by many, beautifully diverse shapes. The origins of these shapes don’t seem to lead back to a grand, unified singularity, or Big Bang, but rather to series of smaller contingencies, or perhaps even to a deeper well—a centerless ether of ever-changing vibrations, out of which the highly-tuned conduit of Segre plucks them.
Over the years, Segre’s art has explored many influences and many ideas. Her work has drawn on mycology, physics, and the science of fermentation, utilizing actual fungus and bread, or facsimiles of those things, and, for a period, large amounts of bees wax. It has taken the form of drawings, woven fibers, sculptures, and papier mache, with each phase seeming to lead organically to the next, in a process that could be construed as evolution, or perhaps something more voracious than that, the process whereby one thing simply devours the thing that came before, and absorbs its energy.
Porous, Porous is a recent, representative object. On a mound of cobalt-painted foam rests an ochre globe, padded with tied-on slices of bread, over which rises a membranous webbing of yarn. Inside the webbing are suspended slices of bread that float in the open vacuoles like mitochondria in cell plasma, and the whole, sail-like appendage seems to shift aspect depending on point of view, becoming a halo, a cloud, or a cartoon thought balloon. Chunky, coagulant, purposefully rickety, but also graceful and precisely engineered, the sculpture resembles a subatomic particle blown up under an electron microscope, or maybe a creature dredged from the lightless ocean floor, and lives definitively in relation to other sculptures nearby, like Orbit of the Haggis, a wraith-come-jellyfish connected to a cobalt meteor, or Red Sun, a shaggy, saffron sunburst whose filaments seem to weep towards the floor.
Together, the pieces describe a whole cosmos, born from Segre’s previous cosmos, a home to marbled nebulae, dark angels, gushing black holes, all floating in a rich, conducting fluid like some interstellar paella. If they share an occasional resemblance to works by Miro or Calder, it seems less like influence than confirmation of empirical observation. These are the building blocks of surreality, independently verified.
Some people call Segre’s art witchy or spiritual. And it’s true, they seem magically conjured, the product of some kind of cat’s cradle sorcery. They also get tagged as psychedelic, which is also true. But for some of us—those lacking mathematical capacity, especially—they look like the products of hard science. Segre comes as a kind of physicist, taking the measure of the unseen world, and rendering it in all its strange, quantum, heterodox glory. We look at Segre’s objects and say: yes! proof!
~Jon Raymond, 2021
In conjunction with the Segre’s exhibition we will be screening a short film by Kelly Reichardt entitled Bronx, New York, November 2019, courtesy of Centre Pompidou, with funding from Film Independent's Bonnie Award. While researching her upcoming feature film on the daily life of artists, Kelly Reichardt filmed women sculptors in their studios and created two unique short films. Shot on 16mm, Bronx, New York, November 2019 features Michelle Segre methodically working in her studio, crafting large scale sculptures from fragile and perishable elements, such as paper, wool and bread. We are honored to be debuting this short film alongside its release at Reichardt’s retrospective at the Centre Pompidou entitled L’Amérique retraversée this October.