Marisa Morán Jahn and Rafi Segal Solo Exhibition
Sapar Contemporary Gallery
June 2 – July 15, 2023
Opening Reception: Fri June 2 (6-8 pm)

Inspired by the Meso-American and Chinese papercut art forms whose punctures are said to let the past through, the sculptures and two dimensional artworks in Aberturas (in English, openings, passages, portals), a solo exhibition by artist Marisa Morán Jahn (SMVisS ’07) and architect Rafi Segal, brings focus to the aesthetic language characterizing the collaborative duo’s socially engaged, civic scale projects. Presented for the first time in a fine art gallery context, the works on view at Sapar Contemporary give attention to their collaborative works’ intense bursts of color, play of forms and shadows, and geometric patterns of solids and voids.

The works in this exhibition are created through a dialogical process between the process of painting, etching, and perforating the two dimensional plane and folding, cutting, and transforming the surface into three dimensional spaces and voids. The cuts form clusters that function as both individual and as a group: calligraphy hovering on the edge of language, crystals, flocks, flames, or synapses.

For Jahn, who is of Chinese and Ecuadorian descent, adapting the transnational tradition of perforating paper is a reflective process. “Each cut is a portal or passage between worlds, and the artwork’s surface represents a threshold. In other words, the artwork makes visible — and is — the in-between. The incisions ask a question: To what degree and how shall the surface be open, hence how much past — and which pasts — do you want to let through?” Jahn’s work, which integrates social practice, performance, film, and two dimensional works, is characterized by its imaginative, colorful, and playful approach. As the Guerilla Girls noted, “Once you see Marisa Morán Jahn’s artwork, you’re not going to forget it — ever.”

As in his architectural practice, Segal questions the design of buildings as ‘closed objects’ in favor of more porous conditions that invite interactions between public and private, mass and void, landscape and interiors, and more. The adaptation of patterns become ways to contextualize a project’s site and cultural context. As an Israeli architect, Segal’s interest in Ottoman and Islamic architecture and ornamentation critiques the overarching adaptation of Western forms in Israeli architecture and posits instead inspiration from regional histories and traditions.

After co-teaching several courses at MIT, Segal and Jahn began collaborating on a series of civic-scale works that invoke each other’s respective strengths and invite interdisciplinary dialogue that results in the work in this exhibition, Aberturas. In previous projects such as Sueños, a pavilion in Mexico City created from recycled wood from Mexico City’s first roller coaster and fibrous papercuts channels color, light, and shadows to convene the public and  celebrate the site, the first public park of the Americas. For the 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture, their striking red and white installation shifts in form from bench to wall to screen. In Carehaus, the U.S.’ first care-based co-housing project currently being built in Baltimore —  Jahn and Segal’s most ambitious and overarching work to date — design, art, and architecture perhaps most pronounced in the building’s colorful facade responds to the neighborhood’s stated interest in light and bold design to give a sense of place to the community, invite passersby, and stabilize the neighborhood. Segal and Jahn also recently co-authored the book Design & Solidarity (Columbia University Press, 2023) and in the summer of 2023 will be working on a new public commission by Chicago’s National Public Housing Museum that celebrates street games, play, and civic agency.