Courtesy of Edra Soto.

The two current shows at Sector 2337; Graft by Edra Soto, curated by Albert Stabler and Remembrancer by Danny Giles are at once at odds but ultimately rely on viewer participation in two very different ways. Soto’s installation, employing her now signature use of geometric patterning, commands the spacious front gallery. However, alone in the space I had the feeling that the installation was made for many, much like the public structures they reference. Soto’s architectural constructions of pastel benches that reference the bus stops and decorative screening common to the vernacular architecture of her native Puerto Rico is lonely without a crowd. Soto’s work is open, (literally) transparent and generous. From offering the viewer seat to the beautiful color newsprint take-aways, published by Green Lantern Press, this work is made for a public. The depth of the work is exposed through the writings contained in the publications rather than in the material of the work itself.

Giles’ new installation in the small back gallery alternately lends itself to a much more psychological experience. Deriving sculptural imagery from an obscure Ralph Ellison quote on the wall near the entrance, Giles makes visible the metaphor of barrels as containment, but also tapping into the legacy of “a barrel of laughter” where slaves were not allowed to laugh on a plantation except for into a barrel set aside for that purpose. These objects suggest a time in the past when barrels were in everyday use, but these are new barrels, suggesting this history is still with us in the present. The main work in the room is a barrel on its side with a video projection emanating from the inside of the barrel. But it is the laughter, native to the medley of black and white video clips of white people laughing, that brings gravity to the installation. Both shows pull apart a given historical narrative to express aspects of the artists’ identities. We all want to be different and that desire is where we conform.

Submitted by Laura Davis.

Edra Soto: GRAFT, curated by Albert Stabler, and Danny Giles: Remembrancer will be on view through Apr 02, 2017 at Sector 2337, a nonprofit gallery, bookstore and performance space located at 2337 N Milwaukee Ave. GRAFT installation is accompanied by a two-part tabloid-style with bilingual contributions from Dorothy Bell Ferrer, Cristina Correa, Christopher Cozier, Rafael Franco, Alison Fraunhar, Jefferson Godard, Daniel Hojnacki, J. Anna Looney, Anansi kNOwBody, Jesus Mejia, Daniel R. Quiles, Xuxa Rodriguez, Teresa Silva, Albert Stabler, Andy Sullivan, and Carolyn Supinka.

Edra Soto and Danny Giles at their openings, February 10, 2017. Photo by Sharmyn Cruz Rivera.

Caroline Picard and Edra Soto with GRAFT literary take-aways. Courtesy of Edra Soto.

Danny Giles, Untitled No. 1 (2017). Plaster, grout. charcoal, vaseline, wood. Courtesy of Sector2337.

Danny Giles, Untitled No. 2 (2017). Plaster, grout, charcoal. Courtesy of Sector2337.

Edra Soto, Graft (2017) . Installation view, courtesy of Sector2337.