Through the hum of black velvet sleep
Marlborough Contemporary, New York

05. 23. - 06. 25. 2017

Through the hum of black velvet sleep, furthers Bašić’s study of both the experiential and atmospheric aspects of the body as it dwindles and subsists in its fringe states.

With forms that are as relatable as they are alien, this show builds upon the premise of dust as the absolute reduction of the world, a substance in which the world is anonymously contained, since the origin of each particle is unknowable. Similarly, the body’s reduction to dust renders it its composite, suggesting that the unknowable nature of the universe is conditioned upon the unknowable nature of the body and its alien alloy. With this in mind, Through the hum... mirrors the phases and effects of the
body under pressure as it transitions from the states of being and porosity to pure density, stone, and ultimately a return to nameless fine matter. 

Like nesting dolls, the individual works in the exhibition each embody the cyclical stages of becoming, being, declining, and ceasing to be. Upon one’s first step
into the interior, the viewer encounters the central work, I will lull and rock the ailing light in my marble arms. The twin protagonist works on view are at first obstructed from sight. Only when circling around the space does one encounter the two hunched, pale, rigid forms projecting outwards, suspended seemingly in midair. In stark contrast to their bodily sensitivities, their vehicles, of sorts, are brutal, steel shells closely encapsulating them. 

Their heads are engulfed by delicate glass vessels — like gas masks. In them their breathing dissipates as exhalations turn to dust. It is clear from the dangling limbs and bowed heads that these forms are facing imminent expiration. The metal shells that uphold them are as much an antiseptic container, such as one that a body may eventually end up within, as it is a cradle, where the body flourishes in its inception. 

As Bašić focuses on abstracted narratives of becoming and ceasing to be, time looms overhead with two instances of a work titled A thousand years ago
10 seconds of breath were 40 grams of dust. Like hourglasses, each of these mechanisms are paired with one of the suspended bodies, weighing the remaining time until their disappearance. Moments are measured by the brief respites in between the rhythmic impacts inflicted upon the surface of the blush colored alabaster. The force slowly crumbles the stones, turning them into fine dust that piles on the gallery floor and stirs into the very air that fills viewers’ lungs, tendering to the cycle. 

—Text by Courtney Malick 

Dyad figures afloat,
Finally they are still, motionless
Their sedentary shells swath their sides,
The core it is tethered to appear further and further away, 
its arms, exceedingly outstretched, are cold and surely waning...

 In this space
Feeble air falls rather than fills its gaps
As it sinks into softness — all movement stunts
turns to torpor.

 Pressure surrounds and leaves me hardened, petrified

A sigh fills a slippage that wrings my bent neck
This vessel may shatter
this moment,
                                                                         or the next

 Here I stand within the draining of the light 
       of will 
       of flux 
       of vim

Uplifted, feet barely brush the ground below.
As if holding on to it.
Belay my light...
And the ground is gone. 

....All that remains is a deafening hum, as bodies of dust slowly swirl.

— Ivana Basic & Courtney Malick