Commonwealth and Council

At the Fray

Jemima Wyman


Commonwealth and Council presents At the Fray, an exhibition of new work by Australian born, Los Angeles based artist Jemima Wyman.

How can woven fabric and pattern be used as modes of counterpower for  marginalized groups in conflict zones? Specific yet somewhat abstract,  this question anchors Wyman's new paintings, sculpture, and photographs,  as she continues to investigate the transformative and protective  potentials of textiles—homing in on uses of pattern, clothing, and  masking within a lexicon of visual resistance.

For At the Fray, Wyman develops a civilian psychological neo-camouflage for future conflicts, steeped in motifs and images selected from her ongoing MAS-archive of clothing and costuming of masked protesters from around the world. Anthropologist Michael Taussig has noted that “the field of aesthetics has paid scant attention to its  affinity with the animal and with war, just as it fought shy of magic and conjuring.” Taking up these deeper stakes, Wyman focuses on DIY  painterly effects applied by street protesters to buildings, banners, signs, clothing, and masks—a multifaceted social text inscribed at the intersection of ad hoc deployment and a peculiarly talismanic imagery meant to ward off evil.

Combining adaptable military-style preparedness with protesters' apotropaic symbols, Wyman has painted over multi-buttoned triangular pieces of fabric, known as Zeltbahns[1], to create a series of  double-sided recombinant paintings. These accompany two large-scale textile works: a monument built fromnquilted panels of silver material bearing photos of chrome-masked protesters, and a spatial installation featuring patterned swatches of protest symbols, spray-painted using stencils cut from photographs. These transformative textiles and recombinant forms aim for social camouflage, offering a manifold cloak for the resistant body—a provisional, repurposable collective space in highly volatile times.

At the Fray is funded by a New Work Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts.

Jemima Wyman (b. in Sydney; lives and works in Los Angeles and Brisbane) received her MFA from CalArts in 2007. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Sullivan and Strumpf, Sydney and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Wyman’s work has been exhibited internationally at Nam June Paik Art Center, Korea; ZKM, Germany; MU artspace, Netherlands; 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and MUMA, Melbourne. Recent commissions include large-scale works for Iconography of Revolt at City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand; The National at Carriageworks, Sydney; Pattern Bandits at GOMA, Brisbane; and The Unexpected Guest in the Liverpool Biennial at FACT. CamLab, a collaboration between Anna  Mayer and Wyman begun in 2005, has staged events and exhibitions  throughout Los Angeles at MOCA, The Hammer, Armory Center for the Arts, and Wildness at The Silver Platter. They have been visiting artists at Occidental College, Ox-Bow, ThreeWalls, and the University of Houston. This is Wyman’s second solo exhibition at Commonwealth and Council.

[1] Zeltbahn is the German name for a shelter-half. Shelter-halves were used by Italian, Russian, Australian, UK, and US  militaries. Designed and used from the 1890s, they became the first mass-distributed camouflage textile. Reconfigurable with buttons, they can serve as poncho, tent, floatation device, stretcher, sling, and more. These triangular pieces became a kind of testing ground for military camouflage graphics with over 20 designs applied to them by 1945.