Emma Safir

Curated by Andrew Gardner

March 30th April 30th, 2023

Press Release & Works List

Blade Study is pleased to announce peripeteia, New York-based artist Emma Safir’s first exhibition with the gallery. Peripeteia, Greek for “reversal,” describes the point in a story when a sudden shift, twist, or turning point occurs. This recalls the “pregnant moment” that German philosopher Gotthold Ephraim Lessing describes in his 1767 text Laocoon: “a single moment of an action [...] suggestive of what has gone before and what is to follow.”

Safir’s work involves several labor intensive processes. She begins by taking photos–on digital and disposable cameras, 35mm, and slide film–which she intricately collages in Photoshop to form the abstract backgrounds of her temporal landscapes. The artist is fascinated with, as she says, a “cyclical cannibalism of my own imagery,” whereby she uses and reuses images and images of images. “I’m corrupting my own images by taking them out of their context over and over and over again, and degrading them, and then hoping to create something that is seductive and beautiful,” she says.

These photographic collages are then printed digitally onto silk. It is in working with silk that Safir finds her most immediate dialogue between past, present, and future, as she employs traditional methods of fiber manipulation that date back hundreds of years. Among these techniques are appliqué, lacemaking, and smocking, the latter of which involves sewing on a grid on the backside of the textile to create a volumetric form at the front. By threading elements of the same silk surface together, the illusion of a soft geometry of interconnected points emerges—a billowing architecture of ruffles and folds that adds dimensional weight to the near weightlessness of the medium. Glitch made sculptural.

The show presents an entirely new body of work, including a triptych entitled modern prometheus I, II, III. These large scale panels are presented along two smaller works Hole Solution I, II. Together, these pieces demonstrate the artist’s continued exploration of vinyl stained glass privacy film used in domestic settings all over the world. “I’m trying to create images that contain several layers of reflection, specifically in glass that’s mediated via texture and pattern,” Safir says. These so-called “privacy solutions” form the basis of her window installation, which encompasses a single glass panel of Blade Study’s storefront, a reference to the imagery found across all five paintings.

Translation provided by DeepL


EMMA SAFIR (b. 1990) is a New York-born and based artist. Safir holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in Printmaking and an MFA from the Yale School of Art in Painting & Printmaking. She has had solo exhibitions at Baxter St at CCNY, SHIN HAUS at Shin Gallery, and Bunker Projects; and has participated in group shows at Shulamit Nazarian, Ryan Lee, and Lyles & King, among others.