Transboundary
Paul Kasmin Gallery, NY
July 12 - August 18, 2017

Transboundary features four new sculptures, the latest evolution in the Work on Felt series, which Tsabar first began in 2012. These works are made of industrial materials such as felt, carbon fiber and epoxy and employ her nocturnal color palette of black, dark blue and burgundy. At first glance, Tsabar’s Work on Felt series shares a number of formal qualities with their hard edge and post Minimalist predecessors: Ellsworth Kelly’s shaped canvases, John McCracken’s leaning planks, and Robert Morris’s 1960s felt works all come to mind. However, Minimalism’s stern austerity of material and strict geometry is softened in Tsabar’s sculptures by the felt and its curving slopes. The material appearance of the work is challenged by its ability to maintain a high degree of tension by a piano string and guitar-tuning peg held in a delicate balance on the wall. Felt, often an unseen component within musical instruments and used to damper and absorb sound, is paradoxically front-and-center in these objects. 

In the still of an empty gallery, the Felts stand silent, but as strings are plucked, the border between viewer and participant is crossed, shifting the sculptures from the realm of the visual to the sonic. It is at that moment that the works reveal their multi-layered existence as both sculptures and instruments. During the opening night, Tsabar and her collaborating musicians will perform a new musical composition written on the felts. Activating the works by playing, stroking, pushing, drumming, strumming, and confronting them, they establish a choreography of movement through an energized, sensual encounter.  Tsabar has long worked as both a musician and an artist, allowing her to traverse and crossover between the two disciplines. The ostensibly soft material becomes the primary facilitator of sound as a single note is played and heard through an amp. The sculptures are temporarily transformed into musical instruments, and the gallery becomes a space filled with sound.

Photo: Christopher Stach and Diego Flores