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6/8-7/20 2024

Opening Reception: 6/8 6-9 pm with artist talk 7:00-8:00 pm


Cleo the Project Space is pleased to present ‘Backlot’ with work by Marianna Peragallo and Thomas Martinez Pilnik. This exhibition posits domestic life as set design by utilizing everyday objects as a backdrop for fantastical narrative.


Marianna Peragallo’s sculptural work activates everyday objects like gardening gloves and plastic bags with movement and gestures that play with their intended function. An animation of a plastic bag twirling, a plastic bag spitting water like a fountain, and thermoplastic gardening gloves in shadow puppet postures move these objects from the periphery to center stage. By subverting their original context, the works create scenes that magnify the familiar and make it surreal. These moments covertly convey the personal memories attached to each object i.e. the gloves her late grandmother would wear when washing dishes, a nod to the caretaking, labor, and vanity attached to her outward character with the goofy disposition that surfaced in private. These rememberings and subsequent elevations in the artwork pay homage to the domestic space that is forever attached to the minutia. 


With the similar prerogative of capturing the domestic space with the drama of set design in mind, Thomas Martinez Pilnik utilizes both ceramics and painting to set a scene between both physical and memoried planes. For this exhibition, Pilnik represents windows and their accompanying sills that traverse both 2D and 3D spectacles. The frames painted on the gallery walls are flattened symbols of themselves and the attached sills that jut out to include small ceramic works, like bean cans and plates, invite an animated still life of everyday activity to the entire installation. It is a backdrop for a play set in the domestic, evoking both remembered moments of looking outward while grounded in peripheral objects that settle the narrative in relative ambiguity. The scene is animated when the viewer steps in to observe Pilnik’s hand in the rendering. What transpires is a consistent reimagining of narrative that comes from a central character and his personal connection to the construction.  


This is the third collaboration between Peragallo, a Brazilian American artist, and Pilnik, a British Brazilian artist, remarking on intercultural exchanges. This show at Cleo the Project Space marks a moment of experimentation with both artists exploring installation, video, and sculpture without marketable constraints. The reintroduction of Cleo as a non-profit arts organization means full financial support of artists’ creativity outside of a traditional market with the help of grants and donor contributions. This show is the first in a long line of barrier breaking exhibitions in Cleo’s programming from emerging artists based in the South and beyond.   


Thomas Martinez Pilnik (b. 1993) was raised in London by Brazilian parents. Pilnik then moved to the US and obtained his BA in Studio Art and Cognitive Science from the University of Virginia, M.Ed in Postsecondary Education from the University of Southern California, and MFA from the University of Connecticut. He is now based in Los Angeles. Pilnik has exhibited internationally in spaces including Moosey Gallery and Arusha in London, SPRING/BREAK Art Show in New York, Zaratan Arte Contemporânea in Lisbon, and Hashimoto Contemporary in Los Angeles, and has created installations and works in collaboration with organizations such as the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health and Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy. He has been an artist-in-residence at Zaratan, McKenzie Gibson Studios in Rhode Island, Stove Works in Tennessee, Art House San Clemente, and has an upcoming session at The Wassaic Project in Upstate New York.


Marianna Peragallo (b. 1988) is a Brazilian-American artist based in New York, NY. ​​Peragallo has recently exhibited at Spring/Break Art Show in New York and LA, Bravin Lee Gallery (New York, NY), Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY), RegularNormal (New York, NY), Transmitter Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), A.I.R. Gallery (Brooklyn, NY). She has had solo exhibitions at Smith College (Northampton, MA), Here Arts (New York, NY), and Winston’s (Los Angeles, CA). Peragallo was an artist in residence at the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony (Woodstock, NY) in 2014, Mass MoCA’s Assets for Artists residency (North Adams, MA) in 2019, Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY) in 2019 and 2022, and Stove Works in 2023. She was in residence at the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program from 2021-2022. Marianna received a BFA from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and an MFA from The School of Visual Arts, New York.


‘Backlot’ is generously funded through the Weave A Dream grant from the City of Savannah.

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