Woven material: Analia Saban combines computing with tapestries


The title of Analia Saban’s exhibition, “Perforated Card”, alludes not only to its subject – the history of computing – but also to a specific genealogy of it: the jacquard loom, invented in 1804, which employed binary punch cards, empty or full, to mechanize weaving. In Tanya Bonakdar’s downstairs gallery, two matching works, “Pleated Encre” and “Tapestries” (all 2018), capture the same subject – electronic chips and circuit boards from the 1970s – rendered on different supports. The “Pleated Inks” are made from inked laser-cut paper and mounted on panel, while the “Tapestries” are woven from dry black acrylic paint and linen thread. The titles of the works each identify as a representation of a specific historical device: Pleated ink (Computer chip, TMS 1000, Texas Instrument, 1974) (2018) or Tapestry (256-bit static RAM, 4100, Fairchild, 1970) (2018). Enlarged like large-scale paintings and tapestries, their paths are recognizable as circuits, although it’s not clear why Saban chose these specific chips.

Analia Saban, Tapestry (computer chip, TMS 1000, Texas Instrument, 1974), 2018, woven acrylic paint and linen thread, 183 × 173 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

Upstairs, the same materials repeat themselves: there are circuit boards wrapped in aged canvas and a few magnetic core memory chips rendered in acrylic paint, which has been dried, rolled and woven through a mesh of linen thread like threads through a torus. These are simply referred to as “circuit board compositions,” although one of them is identified in the press release as a recycled motherboard from a dating app.

The irregular and novel use of the materials exhibited here is in keeping with Saban’s body of work, in which she explores the tension between medium and form. In Saban’s hand, marble becomes a soft, sagging material (Draped marble [St. Laurant, Bianco di Carrara], 2015); the canvases are not stretched (Paint cloth, 2015); and the paint comes out of a canvas which contains it like a bag (Discharge # 2, 2013). These works subvert all the common properties of materials closely associated with the history of art. Although certain references remain present here – the all-black “Pleated Ink” series, for example, recalls Ad Reinhardt’s abstractions – the representation of technology in these works marks a break with Saban’s pure formalism, allowing him to s ‘engage directly with the material. stories that his other works involve.

Analia Saban, Perforated card (Blue), 2018, electronic printed circuit, framed, 95 × 62 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

At the end of the 19th century, a computer was a job – a person doing calculations. Computers were so often female that when computer machines were invented during World War II their power units were called “kilogirls”. That girl-power is used as power, and that a traditionally feminine craft such as weaving is a first industrialized production site, testifies that questions of technology have always been questions of work, gender and their place in the society. Saban’s material references tie these stories together, drawing attention to the work behind the essentials of modern life.

“Punched Card” is named after a specific textured object which, like the 1970s chips depicted inside, conveys information. Abstract paintings and sculptures are also information systems to be decoded. Here, as always in his work, Saban is concerned with the meaning embedded in cultural objects and our ability to understand them.

Analia Saban, “Punch card” is taking place in Tanya Bonakdar, New York, until October 18, 2018.

Main picture: Analia Saban, ‘Punched Card’, exhibition view, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles. Photography: Maris Hutchinson

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