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SELECTED PROJECTS / SEARCHING SELVES: An Intersubjective Art Practice with Remarkable Women Artists of the 20th  Century. 2013 - ONGOING


The four images above are: (top left) a still from Maya Deren and Alexander Hamid’s 1947 film Meshes of the Afternoon, (top right) an untitled drawing by Nasreen Mohamedi from the 1970s, (bottom right) an image from Helena Almeida’s 1975 series Inhabited Paintings and (bottom left) one of Mira Schendel’s  Graphic Object series from 1967.

Since 2013 Wiggins has been working on a long-term project titled, “Searching Selves: An Intersubjective Art Practice with Remarkable Women Artists of the 20th Century.” Through extensive research and consideration Wiggins identifies artists whose work corresponds with her own in content, process, and/or material. These investigations have led her thus far to study Portuguese conceptualist Helena Almeida (b.1934), Russian-American avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren (1917-1961), and Indian minimalist Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990). Wiggins has chosen artists who have extraordinary and rigorous art-making practices that correspond to her own. The relational process that she has enacted with these artists has pushed Wiggins’ own practice to new horizons. Wiggins has studied the work of Mohamedi and Almeida in situ in India and Portugal. She has produced her own artworks in drawings, installations, photographs and performances as a result of these extended contemplations with these wonderful artists.

Wiggins studied the work of Helena Almeida in Portugal while an artist in residence at the Obras Foundation in 2015 and 2016. Almeida, originally trained as a painter, has used her own body in performances and “inhabited paintings” that are recorded as black and white photographs (sometimes painted with blue or red paint) since the early 1970s. Emboldened by Almeida’s method of using her own figure as the subject - Wiggins accomplished several series of her own work while in Portugal and collaborating with Portuguese photographer Luis Branco and also had a major exhibit in Portugal in 2017. Many of these works are documented on this website. Wiggins created large fabric constructions and then entered and performed within these spaces. These actions were documented with a camera. Wiggins’ body of work alludes to Almeida’s work (as well as to the work of Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman and others) and crosses the boundaries of drawing, installation, performance, and photography.  

Wiggins traveled to Delhi, India to an artist residency at the Sanskriti Foundation to seek out the work of Nasreen Mohamedi in 2014. Wiggins met with curators who had known Mohamedi and saw many of her remarkable drawings in museums first hand. Mohamedi is known for drawings in ink and graphite that are highly refined and minimal. Mohamedi also had a photographic practice that was related to her drawings. While in Delhi, Wiggins imagined Mohamedi as her “guide” and conducted a photographic examination of various ancient sites. Wiggins brought these images back to her studio in the U.S. and developed a series of large abstract drawings in ink, graphite, and gouache. Wiggins’ series of drawings and photographs are titled  Out of India  and are documented on this website.

Wiggins also researched the work of the remarkable choreographer, filmmaker, and film theorist Maya Deren and produced the work Me and Maya in 2013. This series of drawings and photographs were motivated by Wiggins’ interest in Maya Deren and Alexander Hamid’s 1947 surrealist film Meshes of the Afternoon. Deren is the main actor in this black and white avant-garde film. Wiggins chose various mise-en-scenes from Deren’s film and inserted herself in them; mimicking Deren’s gestures in similar spaces in her own home. She documented these performances in black and white photographs. Wiggins created a series of optical geometric drawings that allude to the archetypal spaces and forms in the film and in Wiggins’ mimicked photographs. This series of black and white photographs and geometric drawings were installed together like a large surrealist storyboard. This work titled Me and Maya is documented on this website as well.

The process that Wiggins has enacted and will continue to perform with these extraordinary artists is a form of embodied research. Wiggins imagines these artists as her chosen mentors and guides even though she has never met any of them. Wiggins will include other remarkable women artists of the 20th century in this long - term project. Artists on her list include: French writer and photographer Claude Cahun (1894-1954), Austrian filmmaker and conceptualist Valie Export (1940 -), Cuban / American artist Ana Mendieta (1948-1985) and Brazilian artist Mira Schendel (1919 – 1988) as well as others.

Wiggins questions her own notions of self and identity in relationship to concepts of artistic territory, process and documentation, forms of identity and occupation, and definitions of feminine space in this long-term interrelational project. She documents this intensive research and practice on her blog: http://sherrywigginsblog.com/.