SPACE invites one artist to produce a yearlong series of images for a public-facing billboard located on the east façade of Mercer Union.
Mercer Union’s SPACE billboard commission has invited artist Sukaina Kubba for its 2023–24 season for a yearlong series titled, Jealousy. Formally trained as an architect, Kubba deploys transitional objects and textiles alongside historical research and narrative fiction to propose novel methods of unpacking and relating to cultural artefacts. Through sculpture, drawing, embroidery, and various forms of image transfer, her practice is a study of motifs in heirlooms and fibre objects of high trade, that are often activated by historical and fictional characters.
Working with materials such as photo emulsion, plastic filament, and various sheer fabrics, Jealousy presents three sculptural works, each forging an impression of the one before to form a series of abstracted theatrical drapes. Prompted by the history of Mercer Union’s building as a cinema in the early part of the last century, these works come together as adverts for a fictional premiere: a new film adaptation of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s 1957 novel La Jalousie. Noting the double-meaning of the title (“jealousy” or “louvered window”), Kubba attunes to the history and architecture of the building, taking cues from the various mediating forms punctuating its façade—vents, chutes, and other porous passages—that elicit transgression and permit the senses to travel.
Jealousy: Now the House is Empty is the second edition in the yearlong series; the title is borrowed from a chapter by the same name in La Jalousie (1957) by Alain Robbe-Grillet.
Accompanying the work is a poem written by Daisy Lafarge.
fantasise. Something in the wheat
that made you think submissive.
One night he was compelled to jump
from tufted rug to matrimonial bed – in case
of protruding hands, or vapours in the en-suite.
Remembering: a ball of socks, distasteful
thoughts, the alignment of his
mandibles. The wife, other herbs, a blinkered
faithful ray. She was diligent, lying supine
above a chaste slice of bed. She danced red
in the convexities of his eyelids.
In the adjacent room, Viennese. It was misleading
for potential beaux. What to do? Evenings
dug up and pieced together. Easy to imagine oneself
plucked for internet marketing. Secretly
conservative, fondness for woodcuts, corduroy.
She rose late in the little mirror, a slice from hip
to ribcage. Wiped the dust from her navel. Daubed
her sendaline slip. Pressing his nose to the window,
he loved her instantly. His eyes were smaller than average
and blessed with extraordinary aperture. He, in a velvet-lined
cupboard, kept hourglasses polished immaculately.
She was the present and future: sunken middle, sponge
cooled, wind chilling through her aerated centre.
His blush resembled a candycane, a cross section of oak.
He didn’t know how to reach his fantasies.
Blunted male, he twitched the jalousie.
She saw the window glint.
Shyly, she was ready.
Door frames, flower beds, gutter pipes.