Lost Intimacies
Mel Cook, Shir Ende, J.Michael Ford, Erin Hayden, Jaclyn Mednicov, Chloe Munkenbeck, and Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas-O’Neal. Curated by Pia Singh

December 2, 2022 through January 7, 2023

In the course of the last three years, the pandemic has changed the way we seek and perceive intimacy. As isolation, loneliness, and grief taint the day-to-day, most individual interactions have grown more sensitized, intentional, and purposeful with people consciously seeking out connections based on shared lived experiences, renewed perspectives, and even shared psycho/social/spiritual beliefs in order to help quell collective anxieties. With the old ways being ‘lost,’ a lot has been found in our capacities to adapt, bringing us to a moment of reflection in the form of an exhibition at ADDS DONNA this December.

In ‘Lost Intimacies’ each artist forms a thread, tying to a theme that touches on different pressure points of how acutely our relationship to one another, and time and space, has changed. Zakkiyyah Najeebah’s latest photographic series captures intimate portraits of queer identity in relation to literal and metaphoric spaces of interiority, beholding spaces of communal synergy and radical care for both one self and the other. Jaclyn Mednicov’s paintings and wallpapers allude to the temporality of nature, positioning us in simultaneity with cosmic time. In the reliefs of florals encountered in her backyard, she questions what potential lies in the patterns of the prairie, moving off the canvas and onto physical walls of the home itself, defying the art – architecture divide that corrupts the mythology of the art market.

Shir Ende’s practice invites the viewer into the act of transcendental world-building, reimagining architecture as something forming/unforming constantly based on the sensory limitations and abilities of the human body. In screen printed architectural plans, one encounters a ceiling with no floor, a corridor with no walls, and other pseudo-architectural structures that question how we liaise with our environment beyond the tactile and visual. Chloe Munkenbeck’s soft sculptures form an intimate memorial to female pleasure, all the while speaking directly to the impotence of male-dominated systems that penetrate our corporeal experience. This partly summoned jouissance is swiftly set aflame by Mel Cook’s paintings that move us to the heart of a pyre upon which lie the bodies of millions of people whose right to legal abortion have been snuffed out overnight. With higher poverty rates and exacerbated racial disparities, decreased access to care- specifically for women of color- creates a dangerous environment for citizens of this country. How much longer can one remain silent? How complicit does this make us in our own extinction?

But as is the case with all things – with all that is lost, there is something to be found. As Cook’s fires scorch and singe, they also rejuvenate the earth for new seeds to be sown.

Erin Hayden considers intimacy amongst plants, studying their medicinal and restorative powers in their natural environment. Returning to the immediacy of en plein air watercolor, she attempts to capture their spirit through abstract botanical visualizations, attesting to the abundance of uninterrupted planetary resources. Hayden’s palimpsests are antithesis to the ills of big-pharma, pointing audiences to the virtues of spirituality in nature once again. J.Michael Ford’s bent metal sculptures offer us a not-entirely-unrelated view. Articulating free-standing, tubular symphonies that tide against the conventions of our time, these rhythmic sculptures declare the fluidity of the body and the mind, as each of us continues to search for forms of inspiration and vitality in our daily practices. Between creative impulse and fluid orientation, Ford’s sculptures extend meaning beyond their physical tendency, inviting the viewer to negotiate each arrangement from several viewpoints before being deemed one ‘thing’ or another.

Charged with psychological inquiry and emotional sinew, ‘Lost Intimacies’ attempts to capture how Covid-19 is literally and symbolically making us more aware of boundaries and the dissolution of divisory thinking between the self and the collective, with seven artists carefully rubbing up and coalescing with one another in unanticipated ways.


Pia Singh