Whitehot Magazine

Exploring the Intersection of Space, Memory, and Self through the Art of Claire Bendiner

Installation view, Deep Creep at Someday Gallery.

By ALICE ZUCCA November 2, 2023

Unveiled within the vibrant heart of New York City at Someday gallery, 'Deep Creep' emerges as a mesmerizing and thought-provoking exhibition, showcasing the latest enchanting works by the visionary Claire Bendiner. This compelling display not only grants us the privilege to appreciate their artistry but also offers a profound journey into the very essence of their creative process.

The human mind is a marvel, capable of intricate processes beyond mere mechanistic functions. It weaves a rich tapestry of mental representations of the external world, forming what can be described as cognitive maps—a series of intimate landscapes that help us navigate both the tangible spatial realms and the abstract territory of existence. This connection between self, place, and history is the essence of Claire Bendiner's contemporary artwork, a vivid exploration of the intersection of space, memory, and self.

In the early 2000s, a momentous discovery shook the scientific community: pyramidal neurons residing in the hippocampus, aptly named "place cells," were revealed to activate in response to spatial positioning and memory. These neuronal blueprints established a tangible link between our sense of self, the physical spaces we occupy, and the memories etched within them. Bendiner's artistic endeavors are firmly grounded in this revelation.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and currently based in New York, Claire Bendiner is an artist who holds a B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute (2017) and an M.F.A. from Hunter College (2022). Bendiner's oeuvre is deeply personal, rooted in the distinct and familiar surroundings of the artist's life. Drawing inspiration from everyday spaces, their art delves into the realms of domestic interiors, waiting-room lobbies, city circuits, subterranean basements, and car cabins, all of which are sourced from personal memories or reference imagery. However, Bendiner's final compositions defy conventional representation. Instead, they are abstracted to the point of illegibility, inviting viewers to engage with the concept of space on a deeply emotional level.

Installation view, Deep Creep at Someday Gallery.

Bendiner's goal is not to replicate photographs; rather, their works are designed to "feel like a thought." Their artistic process, fascinatingly devoid of preliminary sketches, distills the physical realm into its most fundamental elements: shape, color, and line. Walls and partitions, traditional symbols of separation and insulation, dissolve into porous brush strokes. Saturated fields of color permeate through the membrane of oil-stick and acrylic. Perhaps most intriguingly, Bendiner employs house paint, a material deeply rooted in everyday labor. This choice subverts traditional boundaries between artistic and domestic work, fine art and interior design, and craft and commodity, adding layers of meaning to their creations.

Transitional spaces, such as airports, often induce a sense of disorientation. This experience arises from the discontinuity between self and environment, a challenge to our spatial awareness that can leave us feeling untethered. Bendiner's paintings resonate with these experiences by deconstructing spatial boundaries and distorting perspectives. In the realm of their art, edges blur, memories become hazy, and viewers are transported to a world of fleeting sensations and vertiginous perspectives. Bendiner's compositions beautifully capture our paradoxical relationship with containment—a duality that simultaneously evokes both fear and desire.

In a world increasingly dominated by precision and technological advancement, Claire Bendiner's art serves as a poignant reminder of the power of abstraction. Their work beckons us to delve into the intricate web of connections between our spatial perception, our memories, and our sense of self. These creations challenge the conventional boundaries of art and offer a profound meditation on the spaces we inhabit and the stories they tell. Through the fusion of science and art, Bendiner's works inspire us to reassess our own cognitive maps, to seek fresh perspectives on the landscapes of our lives, and to remember the places and memories that have contributed to shaping our very beings. On view through October 21, 2023. WM

Alice Zucca

Alice Zucca is an Art Historian, independent curator, journalist, public relations and image building consultant for culture, art, design, photography and architecture. She is the founder of the specialized platform XIBT that includes an international magazine published on a quarterly basis and focused on contemporary art and photography.

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