Polina Protsenko and Marie Ségolène

Coming Asunder

June 16th - July 27th, 2018

“The whole world was turning and me along with it, and I was falling backwards and onto the floor, so taken with everything I could not move except in response to her missing touch, all language and analysis having fled me, my dress coming off, my lover's body touching all parts of my body until my body too was wavering and coming asunder and my soul dissolved and expelled to bubble along the surface of my skin and away, until nothing was left of myself or my body, nothing left of anything at all.” –Brian Evenson, The Wavering Knife

Extase is pleased to present Coming Asunder, an exhibition of site-specific performance, installation, video, and works on paper by Chicago-based artists Marie Ségolène and Polina Protsenko. Ségolène and Protsenko’s multidisciplinary practices are invested in the exploration of the corporeal, lust, femininity and domesticity, affection, power dynamics, and release. Ségolène utilizes the performative sphere in tandem with her writing practice to revive fragmented moments of residual upset, desire, and discord, with the performance often culminating in the artist entering a state of control, and therefore tranquility. Bodily discomfort, fetish, and restraint are lived through by Ségolène and shared with the viewer as a means of overcoming, but also acknowledging and creating a space for these formative moments. Her practice, as she notes, “is an archive of written correspondences, therapy logs, photography and found images, an attempt at understanding my own trauma and that of others, finding resilience.”

Protsenko’s background in art education and social practice guide her in organizing interactive performances that deal with notions of intimacy and agency, inviting the viewer to engage with her and one another in a state of communal healing, lending to an examination of relationships. Her work can be understood as a probing of personal identity through cultural memory in conjunction with an investigation of site and historical territories. Protsenko uses her body to examine boundaries, particularly in relation to universal restrictions impressed upon women. For her Extase performance Protsenko pulls from her heritage as a Russian-American to meld vulnerabilities through the mark making of relational elements.

Artifact and remnants play a critical role in both artists’ practices; after their performances the stains from fruit, wine, dirt, and other materials remain on the fabric and garments that they  include in their work, subsequently morphing into their own autonomous installations, but also serving as a preserved memory in the form of a relic. Protsenko gathers the cherries that she is allergic to from participants in the audience and then crushes them with various body parts as she crawls across a white strip of fabric, but it is unclear until the performance is complete what gestures of collective residue the object will possess.

Concurrently, Ségolène’s spillage of wine in her performance, with its blood-like effect when doused on fabric, produces a stain that is indeterminate until after the fact. In Ségolène and Protsenko’s measured performances, there is room for chance, surprise, mutability, and the relinquishment of authorship.

- Budgie Birka-White, Director and Curator, Extase


Marie Ségolène (b. 1988 Montreal, Québec) is slated to receive her MFA in Performance Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019. She received her BA in Creative Writing and a BFA in Intermedia Cyber Arts, both from Concordia University (Montreal). Ségolène has exhibited at Pioneer Works (New York), Vox Populi (Philadelphia), and Projet Pangée (Montreal); she recently participated in Conversations on Contemporary Poetics at Hauser & Wirth (New York). She has published artist books and books of poetry through publishing house Anteism, such as Requiem (2016), Aphrodite (2016), Libation (2016), and Proprioception (2015). Her writings have been featured in publications such as Glamour Girl, The Void Magazine, and Poetry is Dead. Ségolène is the recipient of the Graduate Dean Professional Development Award from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Polina Protsenko (b. 1993 Tartu, Estonia) is slated to receive her MFA in Performance Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019. She received her BFA in Studio Art and Art Education from The Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston). Protsenko has exhibited at Howard County Conservancy (Ellicott City, MD), Bakalar and Paine Gallery (Boston), and Thomas Young Gallery (Boston). She has been the recipient of awards such as the Dean Scholarship from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Education Departmental Honors Award from MassArt, and she was the recipient of both the MassArt Merit Scholarship and the MassArt Annual Grant for four consecutive years (2012-2016).

Press: F Newsmagazine

Image Credit: Jesse Meredith, 2018