EAF16 Artist Profile: Sable Elyse Smith
Sable Elyse Smith drew inspiration from the dichotomy of public vs. private self-representation when creating And Here is a List of Names at Socrates. “I work from the archive of my own body creating new syntax for knowing and not knowing, thereby marking the difference between witnessing and watching,” says Smith.
And Here is a List of Names is immediately eye-catching as it deals in the highly visible aesthetic of roadway and theater marquis signage. The eight-foot tall sculpture carries a softly illuminated enigmatic statement on one side reading:
“AND MAYBE I WANT TO PUSH
LANGUAGE TO A BREAKING POINT
AND THE POINT WHERE IT BREAKS
LEAVES JUST OUR BODIES LEAKING”
On the other side – a backlit blown up photograph of a man and woman smiling into the camera, the details blurry and their faces obscured. The whole piece is topped with a flashing arrow sign, seemingly pointed at nowhere in particular. “I have constructed the sign to be right at human height,” explains Smith. I want immediacy in the confrontation.”
As Smith intends, the bold and visually arresting style of the piece is at odds with its subtle and mysterious elements. Smith reveals further layers of meaning by sharing that the photograph was captured during a family visit in prison – a narrative element not otherwise clear to the viewer. Out-of-focus and glowing from within, the photograph has a dreamlike quality that is jarring in the context of public consumption, especially considering it’s deeply personal nature.