Emma Safir

New York
Artist in Residence, 2023

Portrait of Emma Safir

Artist Statement

Through the material exploration and manipulation of weaving techniques, smocking, lens-based media, rasterization, and upholstery, I make objects that function as screen simulations, proxies, and portals. Simultaneously convex and soft, absorbing and emanating light, the work employs illusion in order to both disorient and placate. Softness is deceptive. These are enticing objects that cannot and will not allow themselves to be totally understood.

Hierarchies of forms of labor and how they are gendered, classed, and raced inform my work; I am especially interested in highlighting the dynamics of digital labor. Through sewing and textiles, I interrogate Western modernism, elucidating feminized histories. My work exploits expectations of hardness and softness, which have historically been gendered. I think about the interface, digital and otherwise, in relation to Wendy Hui Kyong Chun’s concept of “direct manipulation,” in which a user believes they have autonomy in the use of their screen, even if the manufacturer and AI hold the power. 


While at Headlands

While at Headlands, I intend to continue and expand my investigation combining the techniques of needlelace and smocking. I also plan on experimenting through my digital collages with projected space and light.


Artist portrait by Yael Malka.