Cara Chan’s A Part of Things

Photos courtesy of Ochi Projects

The soft, chalky texture of Cara Chan’s Venetian plaster sculptures evokes touch. Figures fondle and hold each other; they seem to converse in bed. Luminous busts rest elegantly on carefully constructed plinths, mutually supporting and melting together, interconnected. Nameless bodies embrace, as if basking in moonlight or pleasure. Chan’s appropriation of classical forms emphasizes the sensuous human body and the ways we have idealized and mythologized it throughout time. The marble that was once carved into classical statues is pulverized to make the Venetian plaster Chan uses, calling into question the solidity with which classical art rendered the human form. The crystals embedded in the reliefs represent our most elevated and delicate relationship with minerals. In all of the sculptures, Chan removes clues that might help identify the subjects. Smooth beach-scavenged stones replace faces. Pastel colors tone bodies. Crystals plucked from gem shows fill in for erogenous zones. The collection of sculptures in A Part of Things presents flickers of history: the decadence of Greco-Roman art, free love, the 70s’ bedroom, early pornography, our digital landscape. Chan’s work illuminates our various imaginings of the body. Her sculptures offer depictions of the intimacy we share with each other, while bringing to the surface that other subtle intimacy, the one we share with the natural world. A Part of Things is on view at Ochi Projects until February 16th. – Zoe Koke