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40 x 57 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Miyako Yoshinaga
40 x 57 inches

Dominique Paul’s “Unnatural Selections” at Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery

By Sola Agustsson

January 17, 2014

In Dominique Paul’s “Migrations of the Arthropods” series, the artist imagines how she would exist in a future world devastated by global warming. She fashions a dress made entirely of recycled plastic bottles, Christmas lights, and trash bags, enabling her to float in the event of rising tides.

Paul shot a video of that imagined scenario in Dumbo, floating in the Hudson Bay and crawling on all fours through abandoned industrial halls. In doing this, she realized that in intending to survive global warming, she had transformed into an insect-like creature. The project re-envisions Kafka’s Metamorphosis as a post-apocalyptic day in the life. Unlike Kafka’s hero, Paul manages to survive.

Open Gallery

40 x 57 inches

Paul wanted to shy away from Ophelia references when floating in water, although her descent into the ocean brings to mind other archetypes, like Medusa. Often she lights her videos using only the luminescence from her dress, as though a global power outage has forced her to self-illuminate. The effect creates a melancholic, disconcerting feeling, as many of her videos were shot at night.

“Unnatural Selections,” on view at Miyako Yoshinaga gallery, also includes collages from Paul’s newest series, “The Insects of Surinam,” as well as photographs from her previous series “Prometheus.” For “The Insects of Surinam,” Paul merges illustrations of tropical plants and insects by Maria Sibylla Merian (who in the 1600s first illustrated insect metamorphosis,) with contemporary fashion images.

Open Gallery

Courtesy of the artist and Miyako Yoshinaga

Spliced together, they form hybrid insect-men, half bug, half bodybuilder. Paul wanted to use the male form, usually muscled in popular culture, to comment on the increasing focus on image in today’s culture. Men, she says are going through their own metamorphosis through a survival of the fittest regime, perhaps preparing for a global fight for survival.

In The Insect of Surinam #19 a gastrointestinal tree sprouts miniature forms. Paul imagined solving the population crisis by shrinking down humans to the size of insects, lowering each person’s carbon footprint.

Open Gallery

“Unnatural Selections” closes tomorrow with an artist’s talk at 2:00PM, Saturday January 18.

Dominique PaulKafkaMaria Sibylla MerianMiyako Yoshinaga gallery


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