Strong Silent Type
October 27 - December 15, 2016
Driscoll Babcock, New York NY
Strong Silent Type offers reflections on the fragment as a material and emotional language. Through the part, we experience the absence of the whole. Minimal in form and yet rich in association, Bart’s fragments in blackened steel, paper, and mirrored chrome are drawn from everyday life and reworked by her careful hand. True to experience, they resist our desire to project them into a completed, fully knowable state.
With an abiding interest in process and a history of engagement with conceptualism and feminism, Bart makes interventions into the lives of her materials that take various forms. Informed by her study of textiles, the artist has developed the sensibility of a weaver, bringing into proximity fragments through which she creates visual poems, sensitizing viewers to histories that have been silenced. In Strong Silent Type, repeated reference to the gendered labor of garment making and manufacture are interlaced with reflections on the gaze—and the complex play between seeing and being seen, vulnerability and strength.
Through a floor arrangement of chromed-steel parts in Strong Silent Type II, Bart signals a negotiation with postwar constructions of American masculinity. Chromed steel is an emblem of mass-production, of the American car culture that took hold in the 1950s, and of the mythical idea of American manhood with which it was (and still is) entangled. These various fragments, which are traced from sewing patterns, tell us a different story – evoking the garment and the feminized, durational, and repetitive labor required to assemble it. Through such interventions into material through form, associations with the strong, silent type and masculinity begin to unravel.
In Strong Silent Type I, Bart repeats the abstract sewing pattern shapes, but changes the treatment of her materials. In moving them from the floor to the wall, transforming their surfaces from reflective to opaque blackened steel, they suggest themselves to be a form of armor, a shield from the gaze. In this work Bart claims the garment as a source of protection, tenuously holding the line between self and other, inside and outside. - Laura Wertheim Joseph, PhD
Pattern Icons I-VI
Strong Silent Type I & II