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2023 - 2024


Homemaking: An Overture is a new installation and solo exhibition by Hillary Wagner at DSGN CLLCTV in Cincinnati, OH. It is made up of large-scale sculpture, found objects, video projection, sound elements, hydroponics technology, and organic matter.

In Homemaking: An Overture, Wagner foregrounds a distinct lexicon of materials, sounds, and images. The resulting environment, when viewed through a musical or literary lens, exists as though Wagner has composed an orchestral piece or poem suspended in space. In her use of dynamic, playful sculptural forms and bold poetics, the home emerges as a container or portal, a refuge or dreamspace, an elastic shelter for imagining, and at times, a ruin.

Defining homemaking as the practice of creating an architecture for life, Wagner offers a meditation on queering that practice. She probes the forms and acts customary to homemaking, turning them against dominant power to subvert norms and carve out space for their reimagining — space where a person might live. Homemaking becomes a means of revealing the constructed nature of what we may take as natural or given, as Wagner assembles objects and materials ranging from the organic and profoundly elemental to those of high artifice and mass production. Guided by feminist inquiry around labor and rest, care and emotional reproduction, interdependence, belonging, and joy, Wagner inverts and renegotiates codes and aesthetics historically attributed to womanhood and the home while making tentative proposals for deliquescing loss and grief into murmurs of hope and possibility.

Informed by her political identity determined by a regionally defined class subjectivity, Wagner aims to reclaim and embody a feminized, Appalachian “hillbilly” ingenuity. She resourcefully uses cheap, free, or borrowed things, old things, homemade things — objects and materials generally accessible within the realm of the everyday — to interrogate notions of origin, memory, nostalgia, and place. Mundane and sleepy commonplace images and objects are amplified and estranged or made abject in order to awaken us to the home’s dialectics and contradictions, its intimacy versus its immensity, and its location as a site for the creation and destruction of quivering, personal worlds and cosmoses. Wagner employs sculptural modalities, such as suspension and compression, appealing to these stabilizing and destabilizing structures, in their precarity and provisionality, to index questions about the human’s certainty of being.

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