The Fussy Eye: Sharp and Soft

Caught in a woven fence.

Like a burr in a cashmere sweater, there's one work that catches you—literally halts your progress—in The Mysterious Content of Softness, which features dozens of pieces by 11 fiber artists. Strategically placed across a short passageway, the big pink yarn fence that is We Couldn't Get In. We Couldn't Get Out checks your momentum through the generally interesting, eclectic show. You've been detained, like a gallerygoer at Gitmo. New York artist Lacey Jane Roberts tops her chain-link fence with razor wire (also woven yarn), and the whole edifice is both comical and menacing. A child could easily claw through the hanging mesh, but it suggests a whole sad world of military jails, immigrant holding pens, prison yards, and other forms of incarceration. Invented in mid-19th-century England, cyclone fences are the perfect product of the Industrial Revolution. (Appropriately, their inventor adapted a cloth-weaving process to work with wire, as Roberts is surely aware.) Chain-link is today one of urban life's most mundane and invisible materials—until you start looking for a gate or find yourself climbing over one (a lost art, really, practiced today only by teenagers and those on TV cop shows). But Roberts' concertina wire up top couldn't actually cut anyone; there's no danger to the piece, only the residual reminder of unwanted confinement, the thin barrier between captive and jailer. 

 
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