The Bureau of General Services—Queer Division is proud to present Near Miss, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Katja Farin, curated by Ashton Cooper. In Farin’s paintings, depictions of physical contact (or the absence thereof) are often the sites of explorations of their relationships to people, the environment, and other beings. Hands in particular are used to visualize care and attempts at forging bonds with others or one’s self. They are also emblematic of emotional states, enacting bodily languages of togetherness, alienation, and everything in between.
In their repeated emphasis on scenarios wherein touch and physical intimacy are key, Farin is a chronicler of both human and interspecies relations, using their works to imagine and work through scenarios of attachments made or missed. Recently they’ve probed circumstances of a “near miss,” what happens when the possibility of connection is there, but it doesn't quite materialize, like a shot that barely misses its target. In Near Miss, 2022, two figures pass on a house-lined street—one turns back toward the other as they walk toward the edge of the frame, a final separation imminent. 2 of 2 Farin’s works speak to the complexity of social interaction, the improvised performance of self, the minutiae of observing others and the self, and the difficulties of observing the self through others. In new works, Farin moves from what they have described as “relationships and their complexities” to the complexity of one’s relationship with one’s self. Six paintings, all 2022 and measuring 4 x 6 inches, isolate the hands in individual vignettes. In each, a single hand or pair of hands engages in an action—extinguishing a candle, clutching a set of playing cards, twisting a tendril of hair, putting flowers in a vase, making a shadow puppet, or wielding scissors. Each is an everyday occurrence infused with theatricality and many are suspended moments of transition, saturated with the frisson of anticipation: a flame about to be extinguished, a poker hand lost or won, a string severed. Others foreground the haptic: the feeling of hair strands between fingers, flowers’ supple petals and hairy stems, or the heat of a flame. The various activities of the hands are presented in scenes that allow us to consider the actions, inactions, gestures, and signals that compose our physical and emotional existence in the world. Farin’s work, at its core, investigates the formation of the self, but underpinned by the principle that change is constant and the “I” never arrives fully formed. Often, understanding yourself feels like a near miss.
Ashton Cooper is a writer, curator, and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Southern California. She has organized exhibitions at the Leslie-Lohman Museum Project Space, Maccarone, Jack Hanley Gallery, Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, Larrie, and the Knockdown Center, all in New York, and Cooper Cole in Toronto. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, ArtReview, Mousse, Contemporary Art Review LA, and others. Her in-progress dissertation explores liberation politics and the remaking of painterly expressionism in 1970s New York.
The Bureau of General Services—Queer Division is an independent, all-volunteer queer cultural center, bookstore, and event space that opened in New York City in 2012 and has been hosted by The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center since 2014. We aim to foster a community invested in the values of mindfulness, intellectual curiosity, justice, compassion, and playfulness. The Bureau seeks to excite and educate a self-confident, sex-positive, and supportive queer community by offering books, publications, and art and by hosting a wide variety of cultural events, including readings, performances, film screenings, book discussion groups, and workshops. We provide local and visiting queers and friends with an open and inclusive space for dialogue and socializing.