The title of the 2021 Triennial, “Soft Water Hard Stone,” is taken from a Brazilian proverb: Água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura (Soft water on hard stone hits until it bores a hole). The proverb can be said to have two meanings: if one persists long enough, the desired effect can eventually be achieved; and time can destroy even the most perceptibly solid materials. The title speaks to ideas of resilience and perseverance, and the impact that an insistent yet discrete gesture can have in time.
To be common is to be many things: popular or plentiful, lowbrow or uncivilized, a thing which two or more people can share, an icebreaker. In Blair Saxon-Hill’s exhibition, visitors are welcomed by a theatrical gathering of characters just slightly larger than the average human and constructed from proletariat materials, such as cardboard, clay, sticks, and borrowed wares including umbrellas and handbags. They float on the walls in dialogue or as if they were a choir.