In what has turned out to be domestic art space He Said She Said’s last exhibition, Sheila Pepe presents the ongoing project “Common Sense.” In it Pepe exhibits an especially sensitive intervention into the living space. Her work suspends looping strands of crochet and shoelace from the living room, entryway and dining room. The low-hanging web physically connects the spaces with its languid gesture. In her recent projects, the artist has involved the participants in the creation of the work. For He Said She Said, part of the looping installation links up with a collection of playful art objects created by the child of the house.
Elsewhere, the shoelace and crochet intersect in connections that support, uphold and create the structure of the form. These connections are frequently tied in ways similar to shoes, where it is apparent that a single pull would release the tension and collapse the shape. As such, there is an air of contingency in the work, aside from its corporeal, weighted quality. Adding to this transient feeling, Pepe encourages participants at the end of each installation of “Common Sense” to unravel part of the work and take away the material for their own purposes.
Drawing significant inspiration from an artistic matrilineage that includes works like Faith Wilding’s crocheted environments, Sheila Pepe’s architectural intervention updates and extends their concerns. Here the notion of communal connectivity, of material poised sympathetically amongst spaces inhabited by living bodies, yet without the rising to the coercive force of solidified architecture, is posited as an ideal. What better way to celebrate (though perhaps unintentionally on the artist’s part) the life of an exhibition and conversation space that was itself temporary, inhabited and bred new forms of connectivity across disciplinary boundaries. (Dan Gunn)
Through May 14 at He Said She Said, 216 North Harvey, Oak Park. Open by appointment.