KT Pe Benito
Emmanuela Soria Ruiz
Lea Devon Sorrentino
About the exhibition
Light Lift is a group exhibition featuring the members of Philadelphia based artists collective Vox Populi. Incorporating video works and physical objects, the pieces in this exhibition delve into the effects of work culture and corporate practices on our lives, relationships, and well-being. The exhibition features a range of works that address different aspects of the theme. Some pieces examine the physical and emotional toll of work, using surreal imagery and unexpected juxtapositions to convey the absurdity of a society built on work-driven expectations and the odd formalities of business culture. Others explore the idea of leisure and the importance of taking things easy, the right to be lazy and offering a counter-narrative to the dominant assumption of productivity. Through experimental techniques and creative storytelling, the artists invite audiences to view work and leisure from new angles, and to question our own relationships to these cultural concepts.
About the artists:
Stephanie Bursese (b.1980) makes work that investigates photography’s role in limiting perspective; by using site-specific installations, book forms, and printed images she creates loops of meaning that create both spatial and psychological spaces. Bursese received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Florida in Photography/Art History and received a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Syracuse University. Her work has appeared in numerous group and solo exhibitions in galleries, museums, art fairs, intuitions and publications nationally and internationally including The Aperture Foundation (NY), The Print Center (PA), Expo Chicago (IL), Cornell University, Galerie Maison Kasini (Montreal), Everson Museum of Art (NY), Silver Eye Center for Photography (PA), Tyler School of Art (PA), in The Welcome House as part of Design Philadelphia (PA), The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (WI), and University of the Arts (PA) ; she is represented in both private and public collections. She has collaborated with artists Anne Carson, Carrie Mae Weems, Suzanne Opton, David Fruend and many others. She was selected for a residency at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in 2006 and was awarded a project grant from the Meadowlands Commission in New Jersey in 2009. In 2013 she self-published her first book of photographs Razor Thin Rock Hard and released her second book, Belt and Brace in 2015. She was recently nominated for the 2017 MACK First Book Award and was included in issue 03 of First Last in 2019. ‘Waiting Room’ was her third solo show at Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia, where she has been a member for seven years and held the position of Executive Director from 2013-2014. She just completed a role as the Program Manager for the Philadelphia Area Creative Collaboratives initiative, a $750K Mellon Foundation grant project embedded in Haverford College. She is currently working as a Grant Writer and Development Manager at We Are the Seeds, a non-profit organization dedicated to amplifying contemporary Indigenous artists. Bursese lives and works in Philadelphia.
Natalie Hijinx (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist, futurist, fabricator, educator, and member of the experimental artist collective Vox Populi in Philadelphia.
Natalie’s art is founded on speculative futures and mid-case-scenario alternate universes, realized in sculpture, installations, digitally fabricated objects, performance, public engagement stunts, puppets, digital tokens, and video. These absurd, elaborate, and darkly humorous projections are puzzled together from social and political failures, the impending climate apocalypse, the seductive amorality of AI, declassified government experiments, fringe conspiracies, game theory, and the logical outcomes of widely-held Stupid Ideas.
Natalie holds an MFA in Studio Art from the University of Delaware, and a BFA in Interdisciplinary Object Design (a hybrid of sculpture, digital fabrication, and traditional craft methods) from Towson University in Baltimore. Her work was featured in Sculpture Magazine in 2019 and she was a 2018 Fellow of the Delaware Public Humanities Institute (DelPHI) for Material Culture Studies.
Natalie’s 2022 solo exhibit, an immersive installation entitled HITBOX: A Post-Apocalyptic Convenience Store, was featured in the UPenn publication t-art magazine. She has shown at galleries in Berlin, Germany; Dallas, TX; Portland, OR; Wilmington, DE; Baltimore, MD; Philadelphia, PA; et al.
She is currently one of eight artists working on Futures Without Guns, a multimedia speculative art exhibition investigating gun violence as a health equity issue, supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (exhibition in 2024), and is Juror for selection of The Delaware Contemporary Artist in Residence 23/24.
Her favorite tools are her carpenter grandmother’s hammer and the Demo Hawg, a three-foot-long demolition crowbar.
Natalie Kuenzi is an artist and educator living and working in Philadelphia, PA. She holds a BFA in Ceramics and a BA in Art History, Theory, and Criticism from Western Colorado University and a MFA in Ceramics from Tyler School of Art of Temple University. Natalie is an adjunct professor and studio technician at Tyler School of Art as well as an instructor for The Clay Studio, The Claymobile, and the Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia. Additionally, Natalie is a member of Vox Populi, an artist run space in Philadelphia, and her work has been exhibited in art spaces regionally and nationally, including the The Clay Studio, The Crane Arts, Little Berlin, and Temple Contemporary in Philadelphia, PA; The District Clay Gallery and Katzen Art Center in Washington, D.C.; Pewabic in Detroit, MI; NCECA 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA; and The College of New Jersey in Trenton, NJ, among others.
Melissa Langer is a filmmaker, artist and Director of Photography. She was recently nominated for a Primetime Emmy in Cinematography for her work on CHEER, a Netflix original docuseries which follows the Navarro College cheerleading team as they prepare to compete in a national championship. She served as Director of Photography for PRAY AWAY, and was also a Producer and Cinematographer for ATTLA, a 2019 co-production of Vision Maker Media and ITVS. Her own art practice in experimental/found video and installation work informs her role as a DP, and she will oftentimes use archival cameras alongside her primary camera.
She is a Cinema Eye Honors Nominee in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking and her films, including MY ALEPPO, have premiered and won awards at festivals internationally, including Telluride Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival (New Visions Award), IDFA (ARRI IDFA Best Student Doc), ZagrebDox (Movies that Matter Award), and MoMA’s Doc Fortnight. She holds an MFA in Documentary Film & Video from Stanford University and a BA in History from Carleton College. She’s currently based in Philadelphia and is a member of Vox Populi, an artist-run collective and contemporary art space.
KT Pe Benito
KT Pe Benito (they/them/siya) is an arts worker, caregiver, and organizer navigating access and dismantling dominator culture. They utilize writing, performance, installation, video, and drawing to offer different points to access their own ideas and for the people experiencing their work.
The arc of their practice is in service to Philippine history, Fil-Am community, human rights activists, and arts & cultural workers. KT creates artwork themselves to sustain victim.survivor futurity, leaning into humor and impulse with their art to ground their existence & embrace ease. They organize with ANAKBAYAN Philadelphia and lead as the city chapter’s 2023-24 Education Development Officer.
@playpinay / @anakbayanphilly
Lea Devon Sorrentino
Lea Devon Sorrentino is a multimedia artist who has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. She is known for her introspective storytelling of American and digital culture. Her work encompasses installation, video, service aesthetics, thoughtful writing, and performance. These endeavors had her named among the “Artists to Watch″ by the Walker Art Center.
Sorrentino is a member of the Vox Populi collective in Philadelphia and has attended several artists’ residencies– most recently the SIM residency in Reykjavik, Iceland. She has developed and produced podcasts, written mini-series and works as a political organizer in Philadelphia. She received her Bachelor of Arts at Temple University, Tyler School of Art and a Masters Degree at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Emmanuela Soria Ruiz
Emmanuela Soria Ruiz is a multidisciplinary artist and educator working in and across sculpture, video, installation and performance. Through both research-based and intuitive methodologies, she investigates hegemonies embedded in personal histories, Greco-Roman mythology, literature, and the history of architecture.
Recently her work as been featured at Icebox Project Space, Pilot Projects, Cherry St. Pier, Automat Gallery, and Practice Gallery in Philadelphia, PA, EFA Project Space in New York, Fuller Rosen Gallery and Oregon Center for Contemporary Art in Portland (OR), Kunstraum Leuphana, in Lüneburg, Germany and Insituto Cervantes in Marrakech, Morocco.
lane timothy speidel
Lane Speidel is a Philadelphia based artist, curator, member of Vox Populi Gallery, and graduate of Tyler School of Art. They play with writing, sculpture, fiber, music, and painting to try to place themselves in the world. These different methods patchwork in freaky, funny, and sad installations, with seams visible.They are a white Jewish transexual disabled fag. They can’t sleep or are sleeping too much. They create sculptures and clothing from trash by necessity but also aesthetic interest. Their writing practice began as love songs to friends, and now its poetry, music, plays, and sci fi. Lane has been an artist in residence at Flux Factory and TPAIR.They have self-published many zines, and their writing has been in Ginger Zine, Stone Fruit, Art Blog, and Gay Wicked Ways. They know that our job is to upend all systems that do not make possible joy, family, community and celebration. They use their writing to look out of the keyhole of our locked capitalist reality, one hand always feeling for the key.
Jim Strong is an artist and performer whose practice incorporates painting, sound poetry, musical instrument invention, anthropomorphic furniture, publishing and curation. He operates the label, COR ARDENS and under constantly shifting pretexts has organized events and workshops in abandoned graveyards, school auditoriums and exhibition spaces throughout the Philadelphia area. His music has been released by Vitrine, MoreMars, Regional Bears, Hologram, Gift of Music and Cor Ardens.
Roopa Vasudevan is a South Asian-American media artist, computer programmer and researcher, currently based in Philadelphia. Roopa’s practice examines social and technological defaults; interrogates rules, conventions and protocols that we often ignore or take for granted; and centers humanity and community in explorations of technology’s impacts on society. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and supported by Eyebeam (Brooklyn, NY); the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy (Philadelphia, PA); the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation (Philadelphia, PA); the Philadelphia Area Creative Collaboratives (Haverford, PA); SOHO20 Gallery (Brooklyn, NY); the Arctic Circle Residency (Svalbard); China Residencies; SPACES (Cleveland, OH); and Flux Factory (Queens, NY). Roopa is currently a member artist at Vox Populi, a 30+ year old collectively run arts space in Philadelphia; a member of the Art & Code track at NEW INC, the art and technology incubator at the New Museum (New York, NY); and a doctoral candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is researching the complex and involved relationships between new media artists and the tech industry.
Collaborators- Jim Strong and Lane Timothy Speidel
About the artwork:
In order of appearance
Artist: Saggy (Jim Strong & lane timothy speidel)
A video to the song “Clover” by the band saggy, consisting of Jim Strong and Lane Speidel, and anyone
else. A sweet note to all the clovers in city parks for showing us that there is no purpose for life – and still
we grow anyway.
Artist: Natalie Hijinx
I employed internet robots to make an art.
ChatGPT output a narrative based on my concept, Midjourney created source images from my prompts, Kaiber.AI was fed these components along with a rendition of the music (which I arranged from a creative commons MIDI file) to generate the video.
Artist: Lea Devon Sorrentino
Title: DED Talk: Nature has Evolved
Nature is calling, or is it, emailing? Now that workers are no longer tethered to desks it was only a matter of time until nature evolved to sustain their mobility. In response to the ever-growing group of digital nomads, the earth has sprung forth with organic power strips, USB ports, and other helpful office devices. Finally! Mother nature is ready for us all to achieve the elusive work-life balance.
Artist: Jim Strong
Title: catch the falling knife
“catch the falling knife” is a short audio-visual meditation on voyeurism and finance. One one hand, “catch the falling knife” could be sort of a one liner of schadenfreude slapstick in an age of financial collapse but the relentless use of audio compiled from several years of field recordings by the artist acts as a condensed web adding a layer of psychedelic horror to the visual experience. Screaming amidst a multitude of power tools and malfunctioning electronics suggests a tragic sentience. Algorithm as Observer awash in a sea of pain … you have to laugh to keep from crying!
Artist: Roopa Vasudevan
Title: Big Tech Says Sorry (Interruptions)
Big Tech Says Sorry is a suite of projects that explore the relationships between technology, affect, authenticity and reception. On view are a video documenting a speculative browser extension in which tech companies interrupt user action in order to apologize for their own wrongdoing; and a series of posters meant to be wheatpaste on public walls, ideally within walking distance of the companies’ headquarters. The work hints at discrepancies that arise when emotion is mediated through technology, both in terms of the tools themselves as well as the scale inherent in their current use; and asks what accountability would truly look like from Big Tech, where the power differential between them and us is so big as to be almost inconceivable.
Artist: KT Pe Benito
Title: Global Waves: a poem to workers of the world
“Global Waves” is a poem about the unity that is found through shared struggle recorded on cellphone from 2022 Philadelphia May Day. May Day (aka International Workers Day) commemorates the historic struggles and gains made by workers and the labour movement, observed in many countries on May 1.
This short 2-minute video poem includes many interpretations of “global waves” — the hand-painted water waves on a poster that reads “END FORCED MIGRATION”, a waving red flag that blocks the camera, and intergenerational waves represented across people in the crowd. With the heightening crisis of political & state repression, it is in the power of the people to resist and crash into another wave of revolution.
Artist: Melissa Langer
Title: found footage, Sunnyvale, CA
found footage, Sunnyvale, CA
Artist: Saggy (Jim Strong & lane timothy speidel
The first live performance of the song “Anti-work” by saggy. Saggy’s singer- Lane goes through the crowd and asks them to report the smallest amount of money they have ever made. This exercise proves that work is time theft – and the only way forward is to steal it back. Whether through snagging printer ink, writing songs on the clock, pooping in your boss’s desk, striking, or quitting – Saggy supports any and all activities against work. Self-rule! Filmed by Natalie Hijinx
Artist: lane timothy speidel
A portrait of all the colors of darkness. 5 days of no sleep pulled tight over the skull, strings of twilit naps beaded loose with poems in between, running into the arms of sleep away from work. Sometimes sleep is the only strike afforded. Not awake or asleep, down the hall, in the back of the world, where do you go when there’s no name for it? Look out the windows painted with the curtains pulled back slipping into dreams. Our night mind is a stage – in which there is one star. How terrifying! There are countless stars if only we could see. Lie down, look up, and rest. Let me sing you a song of wet sidewalks and passing street lamps, of subconscious highway drives and tossed-off bedroom clothes. All our sleepless nights are connected. To refuse sleep is to refuse death, surrender, and be embraced by the night and be swaddled. Don’t be afraid, let the lights go blurry in your eyes, soft to slumber with a lullaby and midnight kiss.