by Madeline Beck
Currently on view at The END Project Space at 1870 Murphy Avenue in Atlanta is a solo exhibition, Life in an Absent Moment, by emerging artist, Leia Genis.
Leia Genis is an Atlanta-based visual artist and the founder and editor of the publication, Under the Bridge, “a portable exhibition providing a finely curated art-viewing experience within the context of a print magazine.” Currently based in Atlanta, Georgia, Genis is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design with degrees in painting and sculpture. She has exhibited in numerous local venues, as well as internationally at the Ipswich Biennale in Ipswich, UK. Alongside fellow Atlanta artist Bojana Ginn, Genis is also a founder of B1 Contemporary, “a “phygital” (existing both physically and digitally) space functioning as an art gallery and idea network hub in order to create a new model for sustainable art practice in a post-Internet age.”
Life in an Absent Moment at THE END Project Space presents a new body of work by Leia Genis, who is currently working in the realm of cyanotype photogram printmaking, but has a varied artistic history in installation, sculpture, and video art. Considering the intimate and self-directed environment that is so beloved about THE END Project Space, I have to first give credence to Leia Genis for not only creating the cohesive body of work we are presented in this exhibition, but for leading the curation and installation of the exhibition in this intimate environment.
Upon reviewing the history of her practice up until now, Leia Genis has been working predominantly in the realm of sculptural, installation, and performance/video-based artwork. Her installation, Life in an Absent Moment at The END is an exhibition of six cyanotype photograms on cotton, stretched over wood panels. This new body of work gives the audience a sample of what Genis’ practice has been centered on since we last saw her exhibit pre-pandemic at MINT gallery with her installation, “4 Corners.”
Rising to the challenge of presenting her own solo exhibition, from creation to installation of the artwork, Genis offers to us a body of work formally unlike, but also intrinsically relevant to, what we have seen before from her. The heavy, architectural elements of lumber, steel beams, and cable that once predominated her work are now replaced by richly saturated cyanotype photograms that mirror back to the audience the shapes of human figures and the delicate ways they overlap. All created in 2021, the ghostly forms presented appear to embody all the isolation and anxiety that has been omnipresent in our lives the past year, however, the interpretation is not solely rooted in heartache. The overlapping of figures and the ways forms touch or nearly touch insists that there is a deeper meaning of bonding, gathering, and support within each piece. Whether the pieces are intended to represent the same form, over and over in different positions, or multiple forms intermingling, we are left with the impression that while this may be “Life In An Absent Moment,” that the figure is never alone.
Genis elaborates the intent of this exhibition in her statement, detailing that:
“Life in an Absent Moment features cyanotype photograms that began as a lockdown project when suddenly, I felt I could no longer work in the same way as I had been. They were my attempt to capture the unreal experience of watching cities empty and my sense of structure vanish. Now, over a year later, I can really only remember how many things were absent from my life: losing hundreds of thousands of lives, missing my active social life, lack of physical intimacy, disappearing faith in government and its institutions, no discernible sense of days and times. And these absences created an overwhelming presence in my mind. All that was present was that which wasn’t.
These cyanotypes are my way of capturing life in an absent moment. When the only thing around is you and your shadow.”
Leia Genis brought concepts of loss, displacement, and incongruence even to the presentation of the title of her exhibition. I immediately noticed how the “M” in the middle of the word “moment” was barely discernible compared to the typeface of the rest of the exhibition title. I began to think about exactly what Leia intended us to view as the “absent moment.” In a relatively post-COVID world, we must first examine these six works through the lens of quarantining and isolation. Genis was forced to re-examine her studio practice and exhibition methods with the quaking effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that hit us hard in early 2020. Since then, Leia Genis decided to not crumble under the stress but rather take that pressure and anxiety to completely re-address her work as an artist.
If you are wanting to glean more from the work of Leia Genis, you will not want to miss her upcoming solo exhibitions at MINT Gallery, opening on July 31, 2021, and at Day & Night Projects on September 9, 2021.
Life In an Absent Moment is open until Wednesday June 30th, 2021. THE END Project Space is open for viewing on Fridays & Saturdays from 12pm until 4pm, or by appointment. To book an appointment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For inquiries about the work or purchases, contact email@example.com.
Madeline Beck is the curator of the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art and a member of the ArtsATL Advisory Council. She graduated summa cum laude from Kennesaw State University in 2016 with a B.A. in Art History and a minor in Classical Studies. She has presented art historical research at conferences across the region and had three of her papers published in undergraduate research journals. In January 2016 Madeline joined the Zuckerman Museum of Art as a curatorial assistant, working with the curator on numerous exhibitions. In 2017, she became the curator of the MCMA, she currently curates all of the Museum’s exhibitions and oversees the management of the permanent collection.