TRANSFORMED [spring 2016]: Fritzia Irizar's sculpted gold artifacts, Stefanos Tsivopoulos's video installation on labor, art & migration, Hilly Holsonback's monumentally fluid digital prints. Scroll down to see gallery. Slide Translation and transformation are central creative processes. The works presented in this exhibition transform and question worth and tear at its foundations by rethinking gesture, shape, object, and image. Our desire to equate meaning with permanence, authority, and objectness is undermined in subtly unsettling, but ultimately satisfying ways. What is valuable is often invisible and requires vision to bring it to light.

Fritzia Irizar’s work, Illusion and Disappointment, guides us through transformations from worth to worthlessness and back again. The displayed gold pieces take their shape from the scrapings on lottery tickets. The scrapes reveal a tiny, disposable ruin made of hopefulness and desperation. Every fingernail scratch reveals a dirty little symptom of a lifetime of chance occurrences on the body, in the body, in the mind. It is a structured engagement with chance and potential worth. Irizar’s work is surprising and highly unlikely, just like the results of a lottery ticket: a chance reality determined by chance processes. Through her process, a worthless, mildly disappointing scratch becomes a golden object. It’s a kind of reverence of chance. A minor gesture by a random person transforms a worthless, discarded paper into a carefully considered, crafted object made of a rare material. In this transformation chance and dreams collide.

Stefanos Tsivopoulos’ ambitious, three-part video piece questions the role of money, the “homogenizing power of a single currency,” as Tsivopoulos states. Three video sequences beautifully portray the effect of money on relationships and worth. We see an African immigrant who wanders the streets of Athens pushing a supermarket trolley and collecting scrap metal to sell; an artist who observes and records street scenes at random with his iPad, searching for inspiration in the confusing landscape of the city; an art collector suffering from dementia, who, living alone in a mansion, compulsively creates origami flowers using Euro banknotes. The work is an experiential critique of existing monolithic monetary systems as well as a proposal with well-researched examples of possible exchange systems. Money in this world is misplaced concreteness -- a mistaken projection of reality on a vast scale. One person’s abandoned, formerly worthy possession becomes another’s discovery. A rejected object becomes a lifesaver for someone else. Worth here is local, relative, transferable, and individual.
With Hilly Holsonback’s photographs, worth is composed of manufactured identities. And like all matters dealing with identity, we see superimposition, blurriness, and contradiction. Unlike so much other work about identity, here it is not simplistic, or reclaiming; it is a strategic staging. Using male images and obliterating them with her own vital movement, the works are performative. Having worked as a scout for film and television and asked to find “strong female leads” by male directors, Holsonback was compelled literally to insert herself into images of men — to jump into them, photograph it, and transform their tired archetypes with physical female energy. The antiquated images that betray the longstanding male models against which female strength has been judged become alive again. Hers are fluid investigations of identity, embodiments of feminine image merged with the male image as required by contemporary media. It’s a kind of imagistic historical interruption with sublime results. It’s also something like a 21st century Dadaist photographic bombing where attention gets radically redirected from something stale to something dynamic. Dean Terry, founding faculty, ATEC, UT Dallas; & EMAC, founder Therefore performance & transmedia art group, creative director TRANSFORMATION at SITE131