A Survey of Selfhood: Lyles & King’s I is Other by Madi Shenk

- Lyles & King Gallery, 21 Catherine Street (Chinatown, NYC)

Lyles & King Gallery’s most recent exhibition, I is Other, was an exploration of self-portraiture, with works by 20 different artists demonstrating a range of visual depictions of selfhood. While it included variations on the classic oil on canvas self-portrait in two paintings by Nadia Waheed (recognizable depictions of the artist in a forward facing stance), other works, such as Shala Miller’s “Likeness Unidentified”(a composite photolithograph and silkscreen work showing a photographic fragment of a carved bust, accompanied by a description of the object written in the assumptive jargon of an early 20th century cultural anthropologist) indicated to the viewer that projections of identity can exist in unassuming, forgotten, or misunderstood forms.

The paintings and drawings that made up most of the exhibit, including works by Bambou Gili, Sara Anstis, and Paulina Stasik (to name a few) revolved around a surreal ceramic and wood sculpture by Kathy Ruttenberg. This work, Eat Your Heart Out, features a central figure laying atop a low wooden table having its heart devoured by a small wild board, surrounded by various mushrooms and sprouting plants, accompanied by an anthropomorphic flower (yes, all in ceramic), alluding to the continuation of self that takes place even after one’s demise. I is Other was shown in unison with another show at the gallery, Paola Angelini & Alessandro Fogo: Black Morning, which featured many figural works, as well. Both shows involved pieces that implicate the body of the viewer, providing inspiration for expanded self-understanding and perceptions of identity.