Saya Woolfalk and Her Fictional, Futurist, Femmes
I couldn't wait to dive into Saya Woolfalk's cosmic and visually orgasmic universe in her recent solo exhibition at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects. The exhibit, ChimaCloud and the Pose System is a decadent feast for the senses and an invitation to her immersive, feminist, futurist community. I was ready to join in. In her second show with the gallery, Woolfalk builds upon her decade-long series, The Empathics and their corporation ChimaTEK, a fictionalized tribe of women devoid of race, who share an intimate connection with nature and feminity. These two elements run fluidly in this sisterhood's ethos.
In ChimaCloud and the Pose System, Woolfalk employs AR, VR, video, sculptures, textiles, and installation, while injecting a hypnotic dosage of her kaleidoscopic aesthetics. Being a global citizen (born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a biracial father, and raised in Scarsdale, New York), Woolfalk has an innate understanding of diasporic narratives. In her sculptures, we see glittering nomadic creatures, resembling mystical females on a flight of fantasy. These incredibly glamorous beings are beautifully outfitted in beaded headwear, lace accoutrements, dazzling sequins, floral prints, and African textiles. Her love for fashion is an inherent part of her DNA, her family sold textiles in post-war Japan, and the artist grew up learning how to sew garments with her Japanese grandmother. Works from her CloudSkins series are also on display, featuring stunning chromatic bodies printed on French and Japanese silks hanging from the walls.
Globalism and the act of performance run deep in her work. In the early 2000s, Woolfalk spent time in Brazil studying folkloric performers, their movements were fueled by their historic costumes which were rooted in the legacy of slavery and Afro-Brazilian lore. The sculptures in this exhibit take on that spirit and appear in a performative stance, agile and lithe, in motion while yet still.
Woolfalk is both a graduate from Brown University and SAIC, previous projects and exhibits include No Commission Shanghai (2017), Disguise: Masks and Global African Art at the Brooklyn Museum (2016), The Shadows Took Shape at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2014), Times Square Arts: Midnight Moment (2016), Perrier/ARTXTRA during Art Basel Miami Beach (2016), among others.
ChimaCloud and the Pose System was on view from February 16, 2017 to May 6th, 2017.