This window installation explores the theme of ‘alternative’ selves – that is the realities one could have lived if not for monumental life-changing events. Although originally triggered by the recent pandemic, the works presented are a deeper reflection on how identities evolve in the face of life-changing events more broadly.
The ceramic vessels by Elena Mahno loosely resemble women wearing pinafores. These silhouettes are rooted in the artist’s memories of school uniforms she never got to wear due to economic instability and immigration from Moldova decades earlier. Traditionally the pinafore symbolizes women’s labour, often contributed at the expense of another path. This theme echoed during the pandemic when societal safety nets depleted and women all over the world found themselves bridging the gap at the cost of own goals and aspirations. Using sculpture techniques, Elena memorialized these ‘alternative’ selves in shapes that are both, intimately nostalgic – personal memories of an identity left behind, and future-facing – shape-shifting towards a new self. Abstracted and carefully arranged in groupings similar to paintings of women in waiting, the pieces seem to be gathering as if finally in leisure … whispering secrets, eating cherries and braiding hair.
Sincere gratitude to The Pottery and Sovereign State for providing the support and platform to share this work.