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Incubation: Sources of the Self

Opening Reception: 

Saturday, January 21, 7-10pm; Performance by Frances Doefeen at 8pm

First Friday Reception: 

Friday, February 3, 6-10pm

Closing Reception:

Sunday, February 18, 4-6pm; Video Screening and Conversation at 4pm

January 21, 2017 - February 19, 2017

Show Catalog

Incubation Series VI, hosted by AUTOMAT:

Joshua Francis Beaver / Lindsay Buchman / Sharla Dyess

Aimee Gilmore / Asha Sheshadri

Curated by Jeffrey Katzin

What is a “self”? Is it located in a mind, a body, in between, or elsewhere? How can it be shared—in physical contact, words, or images? How can we be sure that this communication is authentic? How is a self shaped by barely-known connections to the past, how does it move into the future, and how does it affect the world around it? Does concern with self bring about growth and possibility, or is it doomed to be self-centered, self-involved, and selfish? Can a self be integrated into relationships, communities, and politics?

The artists featured in Sources of the Self seek new answers to these pressing questions. In her video Chapter One: Hazard a Guess, Asha Sheshadri explores her familial connections to India. Movie clips, family snapshots, her father’s voice, and Sheshadri’s own narration mingle to create an ephemeral sense of identity. For the imagery in her paintings, Sharla Dyess combs through social media, selfies and all. By distorting these images and presenting them anew, Dyess exposes how personal glamour can quickly turn into robotic ubiquity. Aimee Gilmore traces the experience of carrying, delivering, and nursing her infant daughter in images made with her own breast milk. 

Through these “Milkscapes,” as well as related prints and installations, Gilmore treats motherhood both literally and poignantly as one person slowly becoming two. Lindsay Buchman juxtaposes texts and photographs in prints and books to suggest at once a diary, a novel, an archive, and a labyrinth of information. The enigmatic inner monologue that Buchman presents is simultaneously precise and incoherent, dismantling just as much knowledge as it creates. Joshua Francis Beaver’s video Man-Made Lakes Lie Stiller In The Night Than The Real Thing is a creation myth set on edge, with sour frustration and infertility in place of order and abundance. Monsters, angels, and mysterious forces star in Beaver’s story, leaving humans with only twisted and tenuous parts to play.

Sources of the Self is the sixth exhibition in the Incubation Series, an interdisciplinary collaboration between students in the Fine Arts and History of Art graduate programs at the University of Pennsylvania. Begun in 2015, the Incubation Series derives its name from the idea that graduate school is a laboratory where one can investigate new ways of thinking. The series aims to showcase the work of MFA students in focused and conceptually rigorous exhibitions in the greater Philadelphia arts community, while also offering an opportunity for art history graduate students to expand their curatorial practices.

This program was made possible by the support of the following sponsors and partners at the University of Pennsylvania: the Provost's Interdisciplinary Arts Fund, the departments of Fine Arts and the History of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the School of Arts and Sciences Government (SASgov), and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA).

Press Contact: Jeffrey Katzin,

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