Meryl Yana: The Edge Of / El Borde De

September 2 - November 2, 2023
Gobernador José Guadalupe Covarrubias 46, San Miguel Chapultepec

JO-HS is pleased to present Meryl Yana: The Edge Of / El Borde De, the artist’s first exhibition in Mexico showcasing works  made in-situ during her two-month residency at JO-HS.

The exhibition will be on view in Mexico City from September 2nd to November 2nd by appointment, Tuesday - Saturday. Email or to schedule your viewing.

The exhibited pieces emerge from bodily reflections and mental testimonials. Spirituality defines Yana’s life and work, originating from her Sephardic Jewish upbringing in Paris and daily ritualistic practices of her own making. Her new work evolved from observing and participating in the ceremonial rituals of other ancient cultures. This past June, Yana traveled around Oaxaca to visit a Mazatec community in the mountains of Huautla de Jiménez, and the Zapotec people outside of Oaxaca City. The textured surfaces hanging on the gallery walls lay bare the ritualistic acts and occurrences within and beyond the studio.   

Mark-making becomes visible as Yana meditatively rubs and layers pigments onto fabric spread over uneven floors, necessitating her to be on all fours. Alchemy unfolds on to rough cotton that she stains with local hibiscus, cochineal, and the muicle herb—a gift from a Zapotec healer. Grounded with baking powder and water, the materials congeal and ferment across the long stretches of fabric, giving rise to celestial hues of pinks, oranges, and blues. Lime juice and humid rainy afternoons converge in acidic splendor, leaving painterly outcomes to chance encounters.

In Huautla de Jiménez, her body was the raw fabric, thrashed with leaves and vigorously rubbed with an egg to release the trapped energy beneath. Her body reverted to a raw state again when her abdomen was gently probed to release sexual energy and subsequent psychological lesions. Also raw were the goats, primed for sacrifice, that she saw at Mercado Sonora in Colonia Merced Balbuena, Mexico City, where brujería rituals take place. That manic friction, chafed, released, and fossilized onto the fabric as vestiges of past encounters. 

The photographs might go unseen. They advance and recede throughout the gallery—on windows, wooden floors, plastered moldings, and unexpected corners. Details from her travels in Oaxaca and Mexico City unveil broken rules and sexual taboos. Skin meets skin, webs tangle, finger-beds soil, yolk cracks, and nopals hang from hooks like slabs of dried carnage. The motifs from the images reveal themselves within Yana’s paintings. Crystalline washes and streams of tears transmute into empty wombs, blood-clotted wounds, and bodily discharges. These swollen forms creep beneath a pool of water in the main gallery; a sacred bath tainted red. A mikveh where purity may never be restored; a quarry whose mounds may never be quarried.

The Edge Of is that which is on the edge of and on edge, always capable of relapse and eruption. When ancestral abrasions, once buried, are unmasked and visceral, only to transform into inherited scars on the verge of tearing anew. Yana exhibits vessels of palimpsests that offer a space for the spiritual and distressed to emerge, submerge, and reemerge as something else entirely.

Text by Taylor Fisch