Opening reception: Thursday, June 2 from 6-8pm
A.I.R. Gallery is pleased to announce Only Silhouettes Remain, a new video installation by 2021-22 A.I.R. Fellow Maya Jeffereis. Drawing on an assembled collection of images of European Orientalist paintings depicting women, Jeffereis’ video employs digital editing techniques as both a critical examination of colonial fantasies and a speculation on liberatory possibilities. This is Jeffereis’ first solo exhibition in New York City.
Only Silhouettes Remain comes out of Jeffereis’ research into misrepresentations of women throughout art history, including the European construct of “the Orient” and its fantasies of the “exotic.” Contrasting the Japonisme movement of the late 1800s—in which European women styled themselves after Japanese women in an effort to appear exotic—against the Orientalist trope of the odalisque, Jeffereis questions both the invisibility and hypervisibility of Asian women. Her video excavates the origins of misportrayals and stereotypes that continue to this day. As contemporary viewers, how might we look at these paintings in ways that do not reinscribe and reify the same colonial power dynamics?
In Only Silhouettes Remain, the frame becomes a portal through which the subject of a painting may disappear from sight, offering the viewer a new way of looking and the subject a reprieve from unseeing eyes. Reframing long-standing narratives, the video speculates on new, imagined futures for the women of these paintings.
Maya Jeffereis is a multidisciplinary artist and educator whose work expands overlooked histories with counter and personal narratives, traversing the spaces between presence and absence, memory and erasure, and the visible and invisible. Jeffereis’ work has been shown in the United States and internationally, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Queens Museum, New Britain Museum of American Art, among others. Jeffereis is a recipient of the NYFA City Corps Artists Grant and Cisneros Initiative for Latin American Art. She has been a participant in Asia Art Archive in America and an artist-in-residence at Lower Manhattan Cultural Center (LMCC), NARS Foundation, Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, Vermont Studio Center, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and SOMA Mexico. She has taught art and art history at The Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Shed, and Hunter College (CUNY), among other institutions. Jeffereis received a MFA from Hunter College and BFA and BA from the University of Washington.