Art, Front Small
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Matter Out Of Place

Context is everything for Stephanie Neville and Jeff Scofield

Is trash something else when it looks good? Can we elevate unwanted detritus to desirable fine art? Can we reframe natural/industrial hybrids to create lasting meaning? With their eco-assemblages, Stephanie Neville and Jeff Scofield pose these questions. Last night saw the opening of their two-person exhibition Woven Identities in NYU Abu Dhabi’s Project Space.

“By weaving together natural materials and found objects, we construct visual narratives through a tactile process of collecting and assembling, thereby giving new meaning to materials,” says Scofield. What kind of meanings? The delicate coexistence of man and nature. The metaphysical ties that harness people to the impermanence of life in Dubai.

Neville and Scofield discovered their mutual thematic intentions while artists in residence at Liwa Art Hub. Neville is a member of the Mangroves From The Water artistic collective. She wrapped coastline trees in pink crochet for I’ll Keep You Safe in 2015. Here her work is more subjective, reflective even. She visits local fabric shops to dig around for their discarded pieces. “This construction is likened to the essence of fabric— the warp and weft of individual threads combined to strengthen and unify, while also providing malleability and adaptability,” she says.

Bean Bag looks like a marine creature, impossibly inanimate in shimmering satin. Just like its title it slouches lazily. Neville invokes Tracy Emin’s embroidery with Sticks and Stones, brightly coloured offcuts with words like ‘alone’ and ‘solitude’emblazoned on them, echoing the rejected state of the material. Like is a ghostly spectre of many selfies solemnly tied together with, as the catalogue says, ‘gut’. Jeff Scofield uses found objects to address themes around sustainability. He has shown in Dubai’s Tashkeel and Gallery 76, and curates this year’s World Art Dubai. Here he repurposes two written word currencies: banknotes and books. Conversations is a huge curtain of paperback pages yellowing in various hues of decay. Money Cascade layers cash so your eyes are drawn to two things: the similarity in colours, and the faces of the good and not so great rulers printed on them.

An elegantly presented show asking pertinent questions, Woven Identities runs until July 22nd at the NYUAD Arts Center. The Project Space is run by the staff of NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery with a view to showing experimental NYUAD academic community projects.

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Anya Stafford is a writer living between the UAE and Ireland. She has over 15 years' experience as an online editor and writer for the likes of Google, Sony, Deezer and City Arts Centre Dublin. She recently completed first year of the MFA in Media through the National College of Art and Design, and before that the MSc in Interactive Digital Media in Trinity College, both in Dublin. Her ongoing research focuses on systems of art, and the aesthetics of ecosystems.

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