Cuts in the Day is the first institutional exhibition in the UK by Dani and Sheilah ReStack (b. 1972, Columbus, Ohio; b.1975, Caribou River, Nova Scotia). Produced especially for Camden Art Centre, it expands and develops the artists’ exploration of queer desire, family, climate crisis, and collaboration.
Using video, drawing and photography, the ReStacks push on the constraints of the domestic in order to yield transformation. Employing materials ranging from charcoal, felt, fur and thread, to angle iron, concrete, neon and wood, they create friction and precarity, constructing new feminist hierarchies of sense and order.
Drawing on Forrest Bess’ search for transcendence of body and mind through both painting and reconfigured corporeality, the ReStacks’ embarked on a journey to the waters of Ohio. Theirs was an attempt to communicate with Bess’ life and decision to live as artist and fisherperson in the small, rural community of Chinquapin on the Bay of Texas. The ReStacks’ attempts at communion culminates in a new video installation, Blood and Water for FCB where they draw on domestic objects, remnants of Colleen Collins’ poem In Extremis We, and recitation of women warrior names from Monique Wittig’s seminal feminist text Les Guérillères, written in 1969.
The exhibition also includes drawings by Dani and sculptural photographic works by Sheilah. In the drawings, Dani makes marks that express her commitment to Sheilah and love for their daughters. For Sheilah, her works are a way to make precarious documents out of encounter with domestic space and negotiation of identities and materials.
A presentation of the artists’ collaborative video trilogy, Feral Domestic, screens alongside the exhibition in the Reading Room. Blurring the line between the banal, the sublime, artifice and honesty, it travels the terrain of the ReStacks’ early relationship until the present day. It is filled with disagreements and compromises within family, collaboration, desire, joy and disappointment. Shot amidst the boulders of Utah, glaciers in Newfoundland, and the alleyway of their Ohio home, they activate environment as collaborator in their lesbian fantasy; set against the hegemonic culture that dominates public and private life. Each film reminds us that in our collective conventions—sex as strictly private; family as heteronormative; motherhood as beatific; artmaking as singular— we are all complicit in mythologies of heteropatriarchal white supremacy. Feral Domestic is a collective and collaborative effort to dismantle and offer new proposals.
The ReStacks’ work speaks to a desire for connection, relation, autonomy and pleasure, as it is found within the mess of daily life. Cuts in the Day is an intimacy emergent—a love-story that celebrates and questions what it means to be a queer family in contemporary society.
Accompanying the exhibition is a free artwork by poet and musician, Colleen Collins, available in the Central Space. Commissioned by Dani and Sheilah ReStack, it is an attempt to make language for this visual experience.