Thursday, November 01, 2007

Olafur Eliasson

"Take Your Time"
@ SFMOMA, through Feb 24, 2008

The opportunity to feel, be inspired and emotionally attach to a major art exhibition is thrilling. The Olafur Eliasson survey at SFMOMA offers deep feelings of attachment and longing that I seek and value in art. Eliasson, born in Copenhagen (of Icelandic heritage) and currently living in Berlin has honed his tactile sensual communication and is able to transport the viewer into a truly transcendent state. For me this experience quells all longing, nourishes my intellectual hunger and transports me to a place of profound creativity.

This metaphoric domain is free of constricting labels and boundaries, yet allows me to inhabit my need for a spiritual artistic union.

Through a series of immerse spaces the SFMOMA show encourages the audience to undertake a physical and emotional journey. Without guide or road map, installations unfold and seduce. Whether viewed in peace, free of the distracting crowds or experienced with a tribe, Eliasson fosters the individual experience.

This show at once has quelled a hunger within me, yet reinforced a longing. My frequent revisits are testimony to Eliasson’s ability to allow me to explore his work through a deeply personal lens.

As the iris adjusts: scents are realized, dimensions are accepted and fluid forms are navigated. One is engulfed viscerally by the divergent constructed environments. With each visit I discover new aspects of seeing, feeling and thinking, my time within this creative domain has become a celebration of art within a powerful context. Whether it is the environment, passion, inquiry or conundrum. Eliasson’s works have irrevocably realigned me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Textiles Exhibition: War, Patriotism and Politics

This Summer The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles hosted a powerful exhibition of international textiles that explored how communities struggle with the repercussions of war and utilize artistic tools to forge new identities.

Thought provoking textile creations artisans expressed the intimate experiences of social, emotional and structural upheaval in their lives. The exhibition presented works created over a 200 year time line, covering early notions of nation building in the USA through dramatic representations of genocide and Sept 11, 2001.

Working with simple materials in humble environments the creators found voice to their struggles. This powerful exhibition drew upon the extensive work of international curators and collectors, many of whom support the artists and local communities broaden their audience and political activism. The textiles surveyed in this exhibition skillfully explore notions of defiance in the face of atrocity.

The exhibition covered three major themes:

Weavings of War: Fabrics of Memory. "Textile works depicting the horrors of war by mostly women artists and artisans from war torn Central and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and South Africa. This exhibit is an eloquent and powerful testimony to the impact of modern warfare and the relevance and resilience of textile arts in contemporary life."*

Woven Witness: Afghan War Rugs. "A closer look at the influences of war on the evolution of traditional rug design from the Russian invasion through the U.S. Taliban war. These examples are a powerful testament to the relevance of the rug form, its ex
pressive capacity, and the ability of a people to adapt to the ravages of war."*

Patriot Art. "Reflections on how artists, both historically and contemporary, respond to their political climate. With true patriotic fervor, humor, irony and passion, these works marshal a range of textile techniques to serve the inalienable right of expression."*

*Direct quotes from museum. Visit the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.

Historically textiles have been the domain of the elite, lavish weavings serving as cultural currency and evidence of social standing. Yet the majority of consumer based textiles and household adornments are often produced in arcane conditions. Indigenous craftspeople increasingly face challenges to their well being through oppression and hardship. In this environment female labor oftentimes toiling in servitude is testimony to the disenfranchisement of women’s creativity and social standing.

It is rare for a textiles exhibition to resonate beyond the visual and tactile response. Yet this collection of textiles had an underlying strength in the fusion of three district elements: the overwhelming stories of oppression, genocide and community efforts to be liberated. Highly stylized works from South Africa when viewed through the framework of apartheid and grassroots organizing for political change become even more breathtaking. Storyboards of individual and collective loss unfold; the individual emerges from the gulf of discord.

For many in war ravaged communities the scars resulting from atrocities are unfathomable. The Latin America wall hangings although filled with bright colors tell stories of unimaginable pain. These works were created through a community building workshop that supported women to gather, build friendships and embark upon a healing process.

A critical aspect throughout the exhibition is that of cultural economy. It was evidenced by American Indian artifacts from the period of early expansion west, through non government organizations promotion of community building programs in third world countries.

The museum facilitated a number of public forums, I attended: "Can Art Build Peace? What About Textiles". With a panel of human rights activists and scholars, this timely discussion expanded upon how arts, creativity and collective expressions of hope are powerful agents of change.

The speakers emphasized that creative storytelling is a means for communities to focus on something beautiful and healing. Through art making and the creative processes, deeply felt loss is mourned and reconciliation is gradually realized.
Key Note speaker Cynthia Cohen, Director with the Coexistence Research and International Collaborators at Brandeis University stressed that powerful community change is achieved when local women organize.

This exhibition served to educate and ask many evocative questions and encourage audiences and curators to ponder: How do we address the ethical dilemmas that arise in our arts and culture-based peace building practices?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

In Search of Meaning tours Fermilab

at Fermilab
National Physics Lab in Batavia - Illinois
Exhibition July 3 - August 22, 2007
Lecture and Reception - July 20

As part of the In Search of Meaning international tour, Fermilab just outside of Chicago, hosted the inaugural exhibition.

Following its successful launch in California the series has now embarked on a tour of art centers and physics laboratories in the US and overseas.

Fermilab is an outstanding example of an art and science collaboration. The first director of Fermilab, Dr Robert Rathbun Wilson was a highly creative scientist, whose vision, artistic passion and necessity allowed Fermilab to embrace innovative alchemy.

Dr Wilson’s vision and heartfelt relationship to sustainable culture lives on at Fermilab. His creativity is evident through the use of old battleships as repository for charged particle matter and a reclaimed prairie above one of the circular accelerators.
In Search of Meaning will be exhibited at Fermilab through August 2008.

On July 20 at Fermilab I presented a lecture and that day was enthralled with a facility tour conducted by the education department. The highlight was viewing a 15 foot decommissioned Bubble Chamber, now in situ on the grounds.
The lecture (in the Wilson Hall, featured above) visually explored the connections between spirituality, popular culture and science. My thesis draws upon the notions of identity revisions of the 60’s and 70’s and breakthroughs in particle physics realized through Bubble Chamber experiments.