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Tashi Fay

My Other Family at the Horse Hospital

18 May - 10 June 2023


In between sleeping and waking states, there is a place shared by the dead, the living and the never lived. Chronic insomnia begets a blurry familiarity with this nonexistent place in MY OTHER FAMILY, a collection of paintings, sculpture and drawings by NYC-based artist Tashi Fay at The Horse Hospital. Fay combines multiple media to form cohesion out of a fractured narrative - one found during casual and repeated somnambulism. These are rich daily scenes from lives that have no start and no end.


The artist’s first public showing of her work since 2019 is done in the wake of the death of Momo, her beloved grandmother. MY OTHER FAMILY is in many ways a journey through grief, an expression of anger at the fragility of the human body, and an effort to transcend the material world by communing with the dead through sleep. 


Kriah, the Jewish expression of grief by tearing one’s clothes or cutting black ribbon worn on clothing, represents the death of the body as the mere outer layering of the soul. The love between the deceased and the living remains alive and can even flourish with time. 


Kriah ribbons, cloth fabrics, and literal fragments of the human body (e.g. hair, period blood, teeth) are omnipresent in MY OTHER FAMILY. Kriah ribbons seem to advance like an infection, collecting in certain areas, such as in Red Shoes (mother’s old shoes, red glitter fabric, human hair). This soft sculpture is at once a sort of eulogy focusing on Fay’s maternal lineage and also a reference to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (incidentally, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ was a song that Momo had requested to be played at her memorial service).


The artist grew up in a Hollywood household - with parents that worked in the film industry - and developed an early appreciation for cinematography. Stills from cheesy TV shows like ‘Murder She Wrote’ and films by directors such as Sally Potter, Ingmar Bergman, Charles Laughton, and others present conduits for paintings and drawings that emerge in static storyboard-like fragments. Each one buzzes with a unique mystery, as though viewed in passing from a moving train. The Bed (oil on wood), is itself an amalgam of a crime scene in Kiyoshi Kirosawa’s Cure and an actual nightmare in which the artist stabbed an attacker in each of their seven chakras.


While occasional violence pierces the veil of Fay’s surrealism, she seems to navigate and escape her mourning through Hollywood and the absurd. Humor and adventure also play vital roles in suspending time and death, as does the presence of immortal figures such as Moonchild (recycled leather, child’s dress, black velvet ribbons, grandmother’s gloves & nightgown, the artist’s stockings) and her dog (faux fur, vintage shoe horns). 


In the end, one discovers an alchemy that unites the members of MY OTHER FAMILY. The props and characters in the work all seem to share a history that spans across media, contexts, worlds and timetables; an anthology-like form reminiscent of Aesop’s Fables, Greek mythology, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, or The Arabian Nights. They exist in parallel, lolling on a pendulum between consciousness and unconsciousness, on an unending ride of restless sleep.


—Sebastian Reetz, May 2023

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