Butterfly, 2011Retired New York City Opera costume
monofilament, stainless steel rings and hardware
6 x 10 x 6 feet
E.V. DAY: BUTTERFLY at SALOMON CONTEMPORARY
13 MAY – 25 JUNE 2011
E.V. Day’s Butterfly is one in a series of works, Divas Ascending, which were made from retired opera
costumes from the New York City Opera; and first exhibited in the Promenade of the David H. Koch
Theater in Lincoln Center for the 2010 opera season. Butterfly, composed primarily of a ceremonial
wedding kimono worn by Cio-Cio San in the Opera’s productions of Madama Butterfly from the 1940s
through the 1980s, is Day’s response to the tragic story of a young woman trapped in misfortune.
In Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, the optimistic teenager Cio-Cio San renounces her religion and family life
in Japan for the love of Pinkerton, an American sailor. When she learns that Pinkerton has deceived her,
and that she has lost not only him but also her own family, she chooses the ritual suicide harakiri.
In Butterfly, the artist has manipulated the garment with hundreds of tension-lines to symbolically
transform Cio-Cio San’s suicide into an alternate vision of flight, an escape from her dramatic
circumstances. Translucent monofilaments pull the ceremonial garment into a shape reminiscent of a
rocket ship blasting off the Earth. The silver-threaded cranes (symbols of luck in Japanese culture) have
been sliced out of the garment and appear to be flying away, their wings lifting the robe upward toward
the heavens. Through the center of the kimono, a flock of naval epaulets and gold buttons signifying
Cio-Cio San’s beloved Captain Pinkerton shoot like meteorites through her body, lifting her up and away
to freedom from earthly concern.
E.V. Day lives and works in New York. She received her M.F.A. in sculpture from Yale School of Art in
1995. Day’s work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern
Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum, the National Museum of Women in
the Arts, and the New Museum. She has had numerous solo exhibitions including Bride Fight, Day’s hightension
string-up of two dueling bridal gowns that was exhibited at the Lever House in 2006 and at the
Cincinnati Art Museum in 2010. CatFight, Day’s newest installation, composed of suspended cast
skeletons of saber-toothed female tigers, is now on view at Artpace International Artist-in-Residence
program in San Antonio, Texas through May 22, 2011. Eight works from Divas Ascending are now on
display at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Louisville through October 15, 2011.
E.V. Day: Butterfly will be on view with Alice Aycock: Twist of Fate from May 13 through June 25, 2011 at
Salomon Contemporary, 526 West 26th Street, #519, New York, New York.
Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday 11am-6pm. For further information please contact James Salomon
at (212) 727-0607 or firstname.lastname@example.org