Hsini Des, Our Present Time

Sep 1, 2020


Oct 12, 2020

September 1st - October 12th 2020

With the participation of: Ivana Brenner, Andre Bryan, Gabby Castellano, Joseph Conlin, Hsini Des, Erik Eaves, JD Freeland, Javon Funches, Jessica Isaacs, Stephen Kelly, McKendree Key, John Malanoski, Teressa Mitchell, Leann Morgan, Misha Paskr, Tonya Pavlenko, Chris Perkins, Lynne Rutherford, Raquel Scoggin, Leanne Shaw, Chelsea Stidwell, Sarah Cameron Sunde, Shanon Traviss, Costanza Vallese, Sofia van Leeuwen, Barbara Velez, Rachel White

Artshack Gallery is pleased to announce its second exhibition, a solo show by Hsini Des. Our Present Time is the culmination of her residency at Artshack Brooklyn, one marked by the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic.

Working around the lockdown, and based on the community's need to connect, Hsini Des decided to adapt her original residency project and offer Bed Stuy residents a simple gift: a pound of clay, and six guided mindfulness sessions. During the course of six weeks during June and July 2020 we met online. People across the country joined. Each time we worked the clay following Hsini's guidance. At the end of each session we destroyed our pieces and returned the clay back into a ball, in order to keep it wet and workable for the next week. During the last session we made two symbiotic pieces - two pieces that compliment and need each other. Hsini explained: one will be for you, one to give away. Our Present Time exhibits these final pieces. At the end of the show, each participant will get one piece made by themselves, one made by someone else. Those who joined from afar will receive a mail art version.

Like in much of her previous work, this project involves an interaction that produces souvenirs — physical reminders or traces of the experience. These souvenirs are distributed in the spirit of exchange and solidarity, outside of monetary valuation or aesthetic judgement. For Our Present Time the artist also goes back to a childhood practice. She brings back the old household democratic resource used by parents of one sibling having to part the cake in two and the other one having to choose which piece to take, in order to ensure the repartition would be fair. In a child's education, this teaches equality and ultimately teaches kindness - treat others the way you want to be treated. In the New York City pandemic context, Hsini Des' project's kindness was urgently needed. It let us be generous towards one another, and it gave us a space to let go.

As a participant, this exercise in detachment reminded me of a Zen instruction in which the student is guided to make a perfect piece and once it is finished, they are told to destroy it. The experience was freeing. In the most uncertain time of our lives, during which we constantly had to gauge risks and make hard decisions, knowing that for 45 minutes I was able to let go and follow Hsini’s guidance was a true gift.

In a final act of generosity, Hsini presents this show as a collaborative effort, listing the names of each participant along with her own, hence democratizing access to the exhibition space and strengthening the bonds of the community she brought together.    

* Hsini Des' guided her sessions with resources available to everyone. You can find them here.

Hsini Des

Hsini Des, Our Present Time

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