20 Oct 2020
In Focus - Emily Lazerwitz's solo exhibition @ Copeland Park
We take a look at Emily Lazerwitz’s recent solo exhibition in London last month, where she showed textile works and redacted books, made during lockdown.
Lazerwitz’s work often explores the intersection of art, craft, technology and language. In many ways, her new work aims to address our current uncertain political climate through textile and sculptural work. Lazerwitz’s exhibition at the Back Room in Holdrons Arcade, Copeland Park Peckham, showing her recent body of work she created during lockdown, offered much to the visitors. The exhibition combines a display of some of Emily’s intricate redacted books shown alongside a striking new textile work.
The President’s Daily Brief – April 6 1968
Hand tufted wool rug hung on butcher hooks, 2020
80 x 100 cm
‘The President’s Daily Brief – April 6 1968′
The textile piece is a prominent work within the installation. In the artwork ‘The President’s Daily Brief – April 6 1968’ (2020), Lazerwitz depicts her efforts to understand and gain perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. In response to this, she also explores the Trump Administration’s response by reading through the President’s Daily Briefs from 1968 – a pivotal year in American politics and the Civil Right’s Movement.
Specifically, Lazerwitz chooses a statement made by Lyndon B Johnson’s government on 6 April. This was on a day of rioting following the assassination of Martin Luther King. Whilst Lazerwitz read through these briefings, she came across the phrase ‘There is nothing significant to report at this time.’ Specifically, this phrase really struck Lazerwitz and to her it encapsulated all her feelings about how the government was responding to Black Lives Matter as well as the pandemic.
Additionally, Emily describes – “I was reading through the daily briefs from 1968 as a way to reflect on what is happening today. This phrase really struck me and felt apt as a response to the present status quo.”
For Lazerwitz, the meticulous, laboured process is a large part of the process for the final outcome of her works. Predominantly, for her textile pieces Lazerwitz begins with tracing the rug’s design and then makes a grid to allow her to begin tufting, a type of textile weaving. Importantly, this is a skilled and time consuming process, whilst being visibly reminiscent of historical and traditional rug making. Here we see, Lazerwitz purposefully juxtaposes her piece ‘The President’s Daily Brief – April 6 1968’ (2020) with intrusive butchers hooks, drawing attention to the sculptural elements of the rug by suggesting weight.
On our visit to the exhibition, Lazerwitz spoke to us about influences and the themes that drive her ever-evolving art practice. Often, Lazerwitz will look backwards in order to make forward thinking work. Specifically, this is true of her politically charged, handmade rugs. Mostly, the textile pieces are held up by butcher’s hooks, Lazerwitz explains this contrast of the threatening hooks to the soft and textural rugs are interesting to her. Much of Lazerwitz’s chosen theme of daily briefs in US politics resonate with the current political climate in the US.
Additionally, Lazerwitz’s series of modified books feature prominently in her solo exhibition. To begin with, Lazerwitz purchased a large quantity of books online at the beginning of lockdown to create her new work from. She mostly received books from the 1940s – 1960s. Although Lazerwitz usually carefully selects each one over time in old bookshops. This element of chance in the new process, subsequently is one that Emily embraces. In summary, she sees it as reflecting how things seem completely up to chance right now.
The Romance of Canterbury Cathedral
Redacted book – found book, Sharpie, 2020
13 x 19 x 2 cm
As an example, the making of ‘The Romance of Canterbury Cathedral’ (2020) took her two weeks to make and inspired her to create a film. Crucially, the film portrays a document of each page, before and after she has redacted it. For the artist, the redacting process in particular becomes ritualistic. Equally, for Emily, reading something familiar in another time of turmoil, and importantly reading about something that survived that turmoil, feels right.
Watch Emily’s film depicting her reading her redacted book ‘The Romance of Canterbury Cathedral’ (2020) here:
To summarise, Lazerwitz’s solo exhibition at Holdrons Arcade, Copeland Park, Peckham included a range of the artist’s current workings. Most of all, the exhibition honestly represented Lazerwitz’s process and inner workings during a time of uncertainty and national isolation.
Discover more about Emily’s diverse and exciting new artworks HERE.