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.