Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lucky Number Seven (On-Site)

Two-level layout at Lucky Number Seven. Click here for more exhibition photos.

Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the final two credits listed in the initial gallery, donated the design pro bono. The gallery foundation, unfortunately, had to finance the builders through the usual means.

Ideals of community space – SITE Santa Fe's 7th biennial, titled Lucky Number Seven, finds its most direct mission statement in the words of its architects:
We see architecture as an act of profound optimism. Its foundation lies in believing that it is possible to make places on earth that can give a sense of grace to life and in believing that that matters.
- Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.
Although the project involved dozens of international artists, staff, and volunteers, the design is what really drives the on-site exhibition. The gallery is divided into cavernous, interlocking cells like a futuristic beehive. Visitors encounter walls at lateral angles and climb long rising inclines; most every installation can be seen from one of two floors.

Everything - including the videos, sculptures, and off-site installations - is executed with the same intention: to maximize the accidental, personal qualities of each viewer's experience, possibly in an attempt at what Nicolas Bourriaud calls "relational aesthetics." I believe the phrase used in one artist statement was “art as democracy.”

Does it work? Conceptually, yes. But in terms of substance and pure aesthetic excitement, something is missing... Unfortunately, I’m not sure what.

The Fourth Ladder, interactive projection by Studio Azzurrio (Italy).

"Mr. Eyepatch" appears in more than one video. He is officially awesome.

As several larger-than-life figures walk from left to right, the viewer can touch the wall and activate a recorded message. The chosen "character" stops mid-stride, turns toward the audience, and speaks, giving directions around Santa Fe, commenting on the weather, or other snippets of local wisdom. Here's an excerpt from the artist statement:
A high potentiality of connection [due to modern technology] corresponds to a low ability of relation … The intense gesture of stopping one of the many characters passing by and detaining him with your hand expresses the desire of contact. It shows the necessity of getting in touch.
- Studio Azzurro, artist statement.
Although the artists generally came from out of town (from the US and overseas), each was required to create their pieces in Santa Fe, using local materials and styles. Judging from my experience, the characters in the projection appear to be bona fide New Mexicans.

10-20 video screens lined a corridor between the first two galleries. I happened to bump into the artist behind this piece; she was surprisingly young. According to website, the team was a diverse "20s and up" crowd.

More and more video. I didn't really understand this piece, but I was struck by the surreal contrast between the completely serene audience at right and the flailing gesticulations of the rock band at left. It was like they were playing a concert for the third world...

"Umbilical" sculptural installation by Eliza Naranjo Morse, Nora Naranjo Morse, and Rose B. Simpson. These were paralleled by off-site creations in downtown Santa Fe. More in the next post...

Unlike the multimedia entires, the two-dimensional works were surprisingly juvenile. In keeping with the mission of biodegradable, disposable ephemera, each drawing was performed on standard size paper and tacked, unframed, to the naked wall surface. I respect the intention – maintaining a casual, and therefore more democratic, atmosphere - but a lot of the drawings just looked poor.


Drawings and found object by Hiroshi Fuji (Japan).

Hiroshi Fuji's drawings, on the other hand, were more inspired. Apparently, his usual media include garbage and abandoned toys. Here, he appears to follow Takashi Murakami's aesthetic of Tokyo pop/fine art fusion. It's too bad I didn't make it out to photograph his epic-scale installation at the Santa Fe Opera, one of the more hyped entries to the biennial...

Damn.

[Continued above.]

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7 comments:

Ben Grad said...

Hey man - I'd be commenting on all this cool stuff you're posting, but I get the idea I don't have much to add. Are you seeing art stuff in Portland?

Jeremy Abernathy said...

Yeah, though I'm starting "blind." I did a lot more research about Santa Fe, so I'm just starting to get my bearings here.

Almost *every* in Portland has openings on the same night - first Thursdays. It makes for a big event each month, like our Castleberry walk ... but it makes it a little harder for me as an out of towner since I've already missed all those events this month.

Yeah, please comment even if you just want to say "Hey, what's that?"

Jeremy Abernathy said...

Typo; make that =

"Almost *every gallery* in Portland"

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Wow it is a sensational place, I cant wait to go there, a friend went there and wow these pictures plus the ones she took, amazing gallery.

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i'm in shock, amazing photos, and in some way this place looks so creepy,ha ha I can't way to go