Rona Yefman / Tuff Enuf
Mar 22 – May 05, 2012
“I’m not really tough, I’m not really strong, I’m not a survivor, but I’m tough enough! As long as I’m still alive I guess it means I’m tough enough to still be alive!
So, I’m tuff. Tuff enuf.” (Caitlin G.)
The exhibition of Rona Yefman’s work at Sommer Contemporary Art is part of a series, ‘Short Stories’ curated by Isla Leaver-Yap, that Yefman presented under the title ‘Time Kills’ at the Sculpture Center in Long Island City, New York in November 2011. Through the artist’s independently fashioned narratives, ‘Tuff Enuf’ presents work engaged in the architecture of how to read and write the object, the image, and the practice. The show takes the notion of ‘reading’ as a framework through which an artist might begin to construct personal positions and self- determined subjects. Yefman’s show is a double portrait that plays upon ideas of innocence and experience. The installation examines the lives of two female tattoo artists, young and old, using the gallery as a space of thwarted representation. The artist’s two subjects – along with their projected identities and desires – intersect to form a composite portrait of Yefman herself. Included as part of the exhibition is Yefman’s new 30-minute video work, Dame of the World, 2011, which focuses on the artist’s interactions with the older subject of the exhibition, Shanghai Kate, one of America’s first female tattoo artists. Against the backdrop of an Alaskan landscape, Shanghai Kate reflects on a life spent working in a male-dominated craft, and the precariousness of her future career.
Yefman is engaged in notions of freedom, and the gap between what we are and what we want to be. Yefman often collaborates with individuals that have formed a radical persona, documenting her relationship to them and exploring identity with photography, video, and text. Her practice reveals the humanity of her subjects, reinventing positive and complex notions of a customized conception of identity.
Rona Yefman, born in Haifa, Israel, obtained her BA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and her MFA from Columbia University, New York. Yefman currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. In the past year she exhibited in a number of leading art centers such as the Kunsthalle in Vienna and Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York. Her recent solo shows include The Sculpture Centre in Long Island city, NY, Derek Eller Gallery, NY, and Participants Inc. Space, NY.