Hilary Schwartz

Untitled
Sugar, table, dishes, silverware, napkins, glasses
60" x 36" x 33"
2009
Works in Exhibition:

Untitled
Sugar, table, dishes, silverware, napkins, glasses
60" x 36" x 33"
2009
(Close-up and installation view)

Artist's Statement

Coded within the domestic spaces, scenes, and objects that I create are traces of intimacy.  The suggestion of the body reveals absence and loss alluding to an interrupted personal narrative. Susan Stewart identifies narrative in On Longing as a structure of desire that is suspended in impossibility. My own experiences of displacement, nostalgia for intimacy and longing for an imagined home and family, as well as a larger queer narrative of dislocation and isolation, lead me to the subject of domesticity and the making of a “home”. 

While queerness is not easily read in all of my pieces, it is coded throughout. Coding originates from within a context of marginalization, but moves beyond this in its role as a language of identity and a signifier of shared experience. The invisibility of queerness is an important aspect of my own experience as a queer femme.  Femmes, as Tammy Rae Carland says, “consistently find themselves in the margins of (and draped on the arms of) discourses and representations of gender”.  In my work and in my life, I subtly overstate and “queer” femininity to code it as femme rather than feminine. Materials in my work (sugar, fondant, upholstery, and sheets) are soft, inviting, and subtle in appearance, so as to imply traditionally feminine qualities.  The excess and exaggeration of gendered materials test the boundaries of normativity.  By directly responding to the work of artists such as Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Tammy Rae Carland, I identify myself with a queer visual lineage.

In Untitled (bed of sugar), a sheet and pillows coated in sugar lay above a mattress made of sugar.  The bed is a sculptural snapshot preserving a fragment of memory.  Impressions in the sugar allude to a relationship from my past.  Reenactment of my memory both fictionalizes it and draws it out of past tense and into present.  Even as the crystallized nostalgia coats memory, the precarious nature of the unfixed sugar reflects vulnerability and temporality.

- Hilary Schwartz