Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles
Anna Mayer and Rosha Yaghmai
Oct 05 – Oct 13, 2013
LA Times review

Volitionaries was initially inspired by folklore about Isabelle Eberhardt (1877-1904), who is remembered in part for her attempts to experience French Algeria by dressing as a man to travel freely throughout the country. Complicating turn of the 20th-century colonialism with a commitment to embodied knowledge, Eberhardt was insistent about acknowledging the vulnerability of her position. In preparation for Volitionaries, Mayer and Yaghmai considered and then departed from Eberhardt’s narrative and went on to establish a set of shared ideas that formed the initial working premises for the exhibition. Themes include: the importance of firsthand knowledge; a recognition that a body’s relationship to where it is physically located is malleable; the way in which language allows us to fantasize and ground ourselves; and what can be gleaned from materializing the construction of the self. Mayer and Yaghmai incorporated their respective projections about Eberhardt into an examination of the power of their own wills and how the remoteness of contemporary times can be alleviated and exaggerated by grounded material engagement. As a result of the way the artists set up a collective consciousness from which to generate their individual works for the show, they expanded and contracted away from and towards each other throughout the process, modeling how one can stay conscious and autonomous while still in relation to others.