Window into Houston — Clarissa Tossin: Blind Spot

1024Blaffer (8)

May 9- July 24, 2013

When Clarissa Tossin moved to Houston in 2010, she was struck by the ubiquity of domestic windows covered in aluminum foil. Often appearing in lower-income areas as an economically savvy strategy to block out the bright Texas sun, foil-covered windows suggested complex issues of location, class, history, and taste to Tossin. Such concerns occupy her work, which consists of subtle gestures using drawing, photography, video, and sculpture in order to illuminate what goes unseen or unexamined, be it architectural similarities between a settlement in the Amazon forest and a small town in Michigan or the intensive labor required to clean a pristine modernist government building in Brazil. Tossin aims to reveal and unsettle the invisible supporting structures of urban life, capital, and modernity.

For Blind Spot, Tossin photographed primarily in the Third Ward to capture the utilitarian yet creative ways residents cover their windows with layer upon layer of foil, bolstered by tape and plastic. Printed as high-quality digital images on vinyl and hung as blinds in the historic storefront windows at 110 Milam Street, Blind Spot effectively transposes locations by substituting one kind of window treatment for another, trading windows decorated of necessity for the photograph as art object and insisting that we see the city anew by taking the time to consider the relationship between these functions. Tossin’s images are densely textured with rich surface qualities in every crease and fold of the materials. The windows’ division into panes suggests grid-like formal dimensions, yet clean modularity is interrupted at every turn by a rusty spot on an air conditioner, bright green bursts of plants, faded blue painter’s tape, or pieces of foil that show their sun damage and do fully cover the glass.

Blind Spot poetically recalls Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1976 site-specific intervention in New York City titled Window Blow-Out, in which the artist placed photographs of broken windows of buildings in the South Bronx into the windows of the Institute of Architecture in Manhattan. Building upon this artistic precedent with strong social implications, Blind Spot claims covered windows as a constituent part of Houston’s urban history and aesthetics.

Originally from Brazil, Clarissa Tossin lives and works in Los Angeles. She earned an M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts in 2009 and was a Core Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston from 2010 to 2012. Her first solo exhibition at Sicardi Gallery will be on view from May 16 to June 29, 2013. The exhibition, Project Room: Study for a Landscape, includes prints, sculpture, and mixed media in which Tossin explores ways of experiencing and representing landscapes. In the summer of 2013, she will join the international artist-in-residency program at Artpace San Antonio, curated by Hou Hanru.

Window into Houston is made possible with generous support from Jim Petersen, Jr. Additional support for Blind Spot is provided by Sicardi Gallery.

Located in downtown Houston and viewed from the street and sidewalk, Window into Houston highlights the most recent developments in Houston’s artistic landscape and reaches out to a broad and diverse audience to engage them in a dialogue about contemporary art made in Houston.

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Mailing Address: Blaffer Art Museum
University of Houston
120 Fine Arts Building Houston, TX 77204