Debra Scacco: The Narrows

Debra Scacco SS Roma, 1920 2017 Glass, mirror, teak 11.25 by 7 by 3 inches

LOS ANGELES—KLOWDEN MANN is proud to present The Narrows, the gallery’s second solo exhibition with Los Angeles-based artist Debra Scacco.  Using historical material from the Ellis Island archives, The Narrows examines the liminal space of the immigrant journey, in which the future of the individual confronts the reality of politics and power.

Composed of three sections, The Narrows discusses institutional structures of permission; physically, systematically and emotionally. The show consists of a series of sculptural drawings formed from engraved glass, mirror and teak; a spatial installation of thread and wood; and a projected film work. The exhibition will be on view from January 13th through February 17th, with an opening reception for the artist on Saturday, January 13th from 6-8pm. The gallery will hold an artist talk on Saturday January 20th at 2pm, and a closing event and catalog release on Saturday February 17th, from 1 to 3pm.

The Narrows refers to the thin stretch of water separating Brooklyn and Staten Island. Now connected by the Verrazano Bridge, this small waterway is one of the most significant gateways in American history. Between 1892 and 1954, over 12 million immigrants sailed through the Narrows to arrive at Ellis Island: the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station of the time.

Language drawings engraved in glass and housed in teak form a row along the gallery’s length. The works number 29 as homage to the 29 questions that once formed the immigrant entry exam. The works are rooted in two key elements. First, the patterns directing the mark-makings’ flow originate in Scacco’s photographs of the water between Ellis Island and Manhattan. Second, the drawings’ textual contours begin with the firsthand account of an individual who entered through Ellis Island in the early 20th century, when immigration at Ellis was as its peak.

Scaled intimately at twelve by seven inches, the proportions of the engravings echo the windows of the immigration station. The mirrored structure causes each mark to multiply —mirroring history in the present, and continually underscoring the multiplicity, consistency and ongoing relevance of these immigrant stories. Upon reading and listening to hundreds of histories, one quickly finds more similarities than differences. These stories of hope, fear, separation, love and loss do not, and have not, changed.


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