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I am starting to suspect that binarism is at the root of all evil. Binarism creates enemies out of difference and stark sides in what isn’t actually a battle, but rather, experientially heterogeneous realities. By forcing multifaceted experiences into rigid definitions and stark oppositions, we become disconnected from reality as apprehended through our physical selves. Binary thinking ultimately leads to fascism, as necessarily complicated discussions around what constitutes truth is replaced by a singular logic: us vs. them.
Savannah Knoop’s show, Heads and Tails, makes connections between money (that other root of all evil) and the binary, as enacted through the “heads” and “tails” of a coin. Her “heads” are made from different types of hats cast in iron, and her “tails” are handmade wooden stools that become temporary appendages when sat upon. The stools rock back and forth, in an experience that is, by turns, dynamic, performative, and unwieldy. Knoop uses a third technique, 3D printing, to create alternative forms of coinage, in the shape of a cowrie shell (a precursor to the coin), and a unique coin that the artist has designed with only one side.
In our capitalistic culture, binarism is enmeshed with structures of language, selfhood, and relationships, making it difficult to engage or disrupt. A starting point for resistance may be to pay attention to the texture and weight of the physical presence of objects, and value the corporeality of experience as it is felt before it is conceptualized into category. Knoop’s objects encourage this kind of physical experience, while providing connections that are oblique, overlapping, contingent, and, like the title, additive instead of oppositional. Perhaps by focusing on these kinds of connections, we can begin to dismantle the binary, and in doing so, begin to challenge the logic of capitalism.
Heads and Tails runs from February 17–March 13, 2017 at Artist Curated Projects (5152 La Vista Ct, Los Angeles, CA 90004).