Ex-Voto: Joseph Liatela

May 30 - July 6, 2024

Fragment Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition, Ex-Voto by Joseph Liatela.


39 West 14th, #308, New York

Show dates: May 30-July 6th, 2024


For his first solo exhibition in New York City, Joseph Liatela presents new and recent works exploring notions of collective memory, grief, worship, and desire.

Originating from the Latin term ‘ex voto suscepto’, "from the vow made", the exhibition cites the tradition of the votive–where an offering is made to the divine for the fulfillment of a vow, or to express one’s gratitude and devotion. In Catholicism, votive candles are lit by the worshiper and then tended to by someone else to keep the prayer aflame.


Using the votive as a conceptual framework, Liatela has collected the prayers, wishes, and griefs of people in his community and translated them into a series of seven engraved marble wall works (two of them are diptychs). Each piece is accompanied by a crypt vase and a live carnation flower that is watered or refreshed throughout the duration of the exhibition. Through the act of keeping something alive, Liatela explores how the shared labor of tending to one another’s grief and desires could translate on a communal scale.


Anchoring the exhibition is its largest work, Redemption (2024), an ambitious, 7 foot hand carved wing suspended within a 9 foot aluminum halo. Liatela draws correlations between devotion, salvation, punishment, and pleasure through new sculptures that employ the visual languages of the nightclub and catholic objects designed to put the body into a position of worship. Throughout the exhibition, Liatela weaves together seemingly disparate spaces of communal gathering as sites of simultaneous collective power and oppression, salvation and alienation, pain and ecstasy, as well as faith and remembrance. Through a wide range of media, Liatela evokes spaces of religion, nightlife, and memorial to expand the definition of the sacred to include the bodies, architectures, and relationships it is rarely attributed to.