"The Longest Leg" a solo exhibition by Emmanuela Soria Ruiz

November 11, 2021

Video installation with steel armature and metal desk

The Longest Leg
Emmanuela Soria Ruiz
Fuller Rosen Gallery
November 11, 2021–January 9, 2022

Content warning: this exhibition includes references to sexual assault, animal cruelty, abuse, sexism, and misogyny.

A man is walking in the fields with his mule and his dog. The mule, carrying too heavy a load stops, digging her knees into the ground and collapses. The man, getting angry and impatient, starts hitting the poor animal with a stick, until the mule has had enough and says: “Antonio, this is how you treat me after all these years of faithful service in which I have never faltered?” The man, terrified, starts to run with his dog alongside him. They don’t stop until a few miles away, where they stop to catch their breath under a tree. “Holy shit!!!!” says the dog “What a scare the Mule has given us, when it started speaking!!!”

Does trauma take a singular point of view, like a monologue? Or does it stretch beyond the silo of the psyche, skulking into narrative environments, social interactions, and even conceptions of a fragmented selfhood? Emmanuela Soria Ruiz’s videos, sculptures, installations, and drawings in her solo exhibition The Longest Leg subvert power dynamics implicit within the act of looking. Drawing upon narrative literary structures, Greek and Roman mythologies, and strategies of visual displacement, Soria Ruiz destabilizes the singularity of abuse and trauma through constellations of images, embodiments, and objects.

Works invite viewers to lift a skirt to watch a video, to stoop down to catch a glimpse of subtitles, or to track the looping (non)revelation of “the longest leg” beneath a kilt. Consequently, viewers are both implicated in their speculations, and simultaneously thwarted by the works’ resistances to gratifying disclosure. In these uncomfortable positions, Soria Ruiz “forc[es] viewers to perform the sometimes violent gestures necessary to look at the work, [as her] sculptural language aim[s] at making explicit the double condition of spectatorship as both voyeur and object.” In the ongoing aftermaths of the #MeToo movement, institutional reckonings with sexual and physical harassment, and emergent trauma-informed modes of care, Soria Ruiz’s works operate as testimonies, warnings, and call-outs, urging viewers to reckon with their inevitable entanglements within patriarchal culture.

The Longest Leg is organized by independent curator Laurel V. McLaughlin in collaboration with Fuller Rosen Gallery. The exhibition is accompanied by a series of free public programs in partnership with performer Allie Hankins, FLOCK Dance Center, Oregon Contemporary, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies and Hallie Ford Graduate School of Willamette University. This programming is generously supported in part by a 2021 Regional Arts & Culture Council Make|Learn|Build Grant. The performance program Private Speculations is further financially made possible with the support of a 2021 PICE Mobility Grant of Acción Cultural Española (AC/E).

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Emmanuela Soria Ruiz (she/her/hers) is a multidisciplinary artist and educator based in Philadelphia. Through both research-based and intuitive methodologies, her work investigates hegemonies embedded in personal histories, mythology, literature, and history of architecture. Originally from Spain, she moved to New York where she attended The Cooper Union for her BFA. In 2020 she obtained her MFA at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been supported by a Sachs Innovation Grant for the project “Stages of Learning,” co-led with performance studies scholar Emilio Martinez Poppe. Additionally, she has participated in residencies at The American Academy in Rome, The Performance Intensive in Philadelphia, The Cervantes Institute in Marrakech, Arts Letters and Numbers in Albany, ACRE projects, and The School of Making and Thinking, and has been awarded travel fellowships by the Menschel Fellowship at the Cooper Union and the Manuel Rivera foundation in Granada, Spain. Soria Ruiz’s work has been exhibited at multiple venues in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Berlin, Marrakech, and Granada.

Image Caption: Emmanuela Soria Ruiz, The Mule, 2019. Video installation with steel armature and metal desk: 29 x 48 ¼ x 24 in., video: 5:00 min. Image courtesy of the artist.