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A multimedia installation
created in collaboration with
Emily Wells and Adriana Papaleo
April 30 – July 29, 2016

In a radical departure from the enigmatic, narrative works on paper for which she is known, Amy Cutler’s sixth solo show at the gallery features a multimedia installation with an interactive sculptural work. Created in collaboration with the musician Emily Wells and the hair stylist Adriana Papaleo, Fossa was commissioned by SITE Santa Fe for its twentieth anniversary exhibition series in 2015.
For the New York presentation, which also includes four new works on paper and a group of three earlier pieces shown here for the first time, Cutler has designed a domestic interior. Yards of braided hair, patterned textile bundles, antique wooden spools, patterned wallpaper and other physical manifestations of Cutler’s iconography transform the gallery, creating the illusion that one has stepped into one of the imaginary scenes depicted in her drawings and paintings.
Ambient sound fills the room, created by Emily Wells by extracting and layering breaths recorded during a series of intimate conversations between herself and a few close friends. Viewers will also be able to interact with a multitrack composition made by Wells that seems to emanate from within a braided, hive-like sculpture set within an old-fashioned “room” constructed in the center of the gallery.
For Cutler, the word “Fossa,” defined as “a shallow depression or hollow,” suggests a kind of “unburdening.” A theme of the exhibition that refers to her many paintings depicting women engaged in onerous tasks, Fossa is also the title of Cutler’s newest work on paper – a large, intricate graphite drawing that details the activities of female characters who live and work in hollowed-out tree trunks.
“Unburdening” is also the subject of Wells’s compositions – both the ambient sound piece and the interactive multitrack work created during a series of emotional conversations with her father who is also a musician.
More than 800 feet of braided human and synthetic hair, created by Adriana Papaleo, descend from the ceiling and stretch into the room, coiled around a group of wooden antique spools, the “hive,” and specially designed headphones that enable the viewer to interact with Wells’s composition.
Images of girls and women with long, braided hair have appeared in Amy Cutler’s work throughout her almost twenty-year career. Symbolizing links to the past and personal history, the profusion of braids in Fossa was also inspired by a visit Cutler made in 2009 to the Higashi Honganji temple in Kyoto. There she saw the remnants of ropes made from the hair of female devotees that had been used to hoist massive wooden beams in rebuilding the temple after a devastating fire in the late nineteenth century.
Amy Cutler is internationally known for exquisitely detailed narrative works of art created through a pastiche of personal memories, political observations, and cultural insights. One-person exhibitions of works by the artist have taken place at SITE Santa Fe; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina; and many other galleries and museums in the U.S. and Europe.
She has participated in group shows and major surveys at museums throughout the world including the Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany; Kunsthallen Brandts, Odense, Denmark; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; MoMA PS 1; the Whitney Museum of American Art, and most recently, the Albertina, in Vienna.
Works by Amy Cutler are featured in distinguished private and public collections, including, among others, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, the Morgan Library and Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Emily Wells is a performer, producer, singer, and composer known for her varied use of classical and modern instrumentation as well as her deft approach to live sampling. Classically trained as a violinist, she also performs using drums, guitars, keys, and beat machines. Wells has recorded and produced several albums including the critically acclaimed Symphonies: Dreams, Memories & Parties and Mama. As a composer she contributed to the soundtrack for Park Chan-Wook’s feature film Stoker (2013) and created a piece for Terry Riley’s 80th birthday in conjunction with WNYC. Wells tours extensively in the US and Europe and will appear at Rough Trade NYC on June 3, 2016. Her latest full-length album, Promise, was released in January.
Adriana Papaleo is a New York based hairstylist, educator, and session artist who is known for her progressive approach and commitment in pushing the boundaries of her profession.
Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects is located on the sixth floor of 535 West 22nd Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

401 Broadway, Suite 411  New York, N.Y. 10013  info@tonkonow.com