A Massive Wooden Wave Surges From a Gallery Floor in an Installation by Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen
In a gallery at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) this spring, an all-encompassing wave of wood surrounded visitors as they walk across gangplanks that bisect the space. The installation, Hubris Atë Nemesis, was by Maine-based artist duo Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen. Kavanaugh and Nguyen have been collaborating since 2005 and working exclusively with paper. “One of the foundations of our collaborative art practice is the act of shared seeing, the artists shared. “We find common ground by actively investigating our own visual reference points, memories and assumptions.”
For this installation, the artists pushed their practice to include new media and techniques: Hubris Atë Nemesis is their first piece in wood, and the first in which the pathway through the piece is an actual part of the installation. The artists explained in a statement that the title and concept of the work is derived from a three-part narrative arc common in Greek tragic plays:
Hubris, characterized as an arrogant confidence, transforms to Atë, a ruinous folly or madness, then ultimately to Nemesis, a force of retribution that resets the natural order. Like many paintings of the Maine coast, we hope this work captures a moment of suspense in a dynamic system—a snapshot with an uncertain future—and that it appears to be unwritten what the restored natural order should or might become.
Hubris Atë Nemesis was created with the support of the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation: Kavanaugh and Nguyen were selected from a blind jury of over two hundred applicants. The installation was on view through June 16, 2019 at the CMCA. If you did not get a chance to experience the work in person, an impressive 360° virtual tour by Dave Clough is available. You can explore more of Kavanaugh and Nguyen’s archive of monochromatic installations, like White Stag and The Experience of Green, on the duo’s website.
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Berlin-based artist Klára Hosnedlová builds installations that evoke the feeling of romanticized dressing rooms. Her recent exhibition titled Seated Woman (pictured here) was inspired by the stage design of the bedroom scene in the 1924 Karel Hugo Hilar production of Romeo and Juliet at the National Theater in Prague. Instead of a bed, Hosnedlová has installed a sculptural changing area with wispy, transparent curtains. This gesture merges what happens backstage with the theatrical design of a play, inviting the audience to imagine the intimate and unseen moments that happen just off stage.
Her textured, baby pink walls also act as armatures for detailed embroideries of women in different stages of dress. Heavily layered, long stitches form rich portraits of semi-anonymous figures. Each is thickly bordered with a frame that appears like endlessly looping braids, imitating the idea of getting ready or preparing for a night onstage. You can view more of Hosnedlová installations and embroideries on her Instagram.
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Chicago-based art duo Luftwerk recently opened a site-specific exhibition titled Parallel Perspectives inside of the McCormick House, the Elmhurst Art Museum’s contemporary art center and historic house designed by Mies van der Rohe. Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero installed acrylic panels, RGB LEDs, and diffusers that interact with the light in the space to create a kaleidoscope of colors and geometric shapes that respond to Mies’ architecture.
The McCormick House was designed with modularity in mind so that duplicates of the structure could be built in other locations. The plate glass walls are where prospective owners could flex their individuality by taking advantage of various color tint options. Luftwerk began the design process by moving the tinted surface idea to the interior. The conceptual pieces fill the space with blues, yellows, reds, greens, and other layered hues, which change as the light and color alter perspective.
“Parallel Perspectives is a step in our own direction using his basic philosophies,” Luftwerk said in a statement. “This exhibition combines ideas of Johannes Itten’s color theory and the basic concepts of the Bauhaus: with the geometry of a square as a prevalent form and playing with one-point perspective and 90-degree angles. It has given us an opportunity to elaborate on the ideas of Mies and develop them into our own shape and format.”
Parallel Perspectives is on view at the McCormick House now through August 25, 2019. To see more of Luftwerk’s continued exploration of light and color, follow the duo on Instagram.
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May 30 is Zero Waste Day in Japan (The name is derived from the numeric pun for 5 (go) 3 (mi) 0 (zero), which can be read as gomi zero, or zero waste). On this day, the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper ran a full-page editorial made to look like a front-page headline titled “Plastics Floating in our Seas” and highlighting the devastating impact that plastic is having on sea life. Everything from the article headline to the images and text were actually carved into sand on a beach in Japan and photographed from above.
The actual editorial that was carved into sand is the work of artist Toshihiko Hosaka (previously), who specializes in sand sculptures. Hosaka worked with local residents and students at Iioka Beach in Chiba prefecture to create the massive sand sculpture. It took 11 days to complete and measures 50 x 35 m (164 x 115 ft). Below is a brief excerpt from the text:
The sea does not speak. So, I will speak in its place. Currently, the lives of many creatures in the sea are being taken. The cause is plastic. Plastic bags, plastic bottles, styrofoam… 8 million tons of plastic used in everyday life are dumped in places like rivers and the ocean every year, and remains floating as garbage. By swallowing or being entangled in plastic garbage, about 700 species of animals including sea turtles, seabirds, seals, and fish are harmed and killed.
The editorial also calls out Japan as for its addiction to plastic:
We Japanese are also largely responsible. Japan produces the second most garbage per person. In order to rectify this, we have to take a good hard look at what is happening in the ocean. We need to think about things we have been ignoring as a result of prioritizing economic growth, everyday convenience, and such.
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Krakow-based duo Przemek Podolski and Marta Basandowska create immersive environments from hundreds of yards of string illuminated by black lights. The deftly woven temporary structures range from simplified cubes to intricate systems that commingle geometry, ultraviolet light, and multi-colored string. Recently the pair have begun to incorporate projection mapping into their installations, which adds another layer of intrigue to the the trippy hand-built works. You can see more of their large-scale string pieces, and view installations included in their new project Decode the Code, on their website and Facebook. (via Colossal Submissions)
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Situated in a clearing within an Italian forest, John Grade’s latest installation, Reservoir, appears like a chandelier glistening among the pine trees. Reservoir is featured in the Arte Sella Sculpture Park in Borgo Valsugana and is made up of five thousand clear droplets each of which is delicately attached to translucent nets, supported by tree trunks.
On designing Reservoir, Grade (previously) studied the Park’s ecosystem, carefully planning the installation in harmony with the surrounding landscape. “I became most interested in the way rain falls through this grove of trees, the canopy delaying the droplet’s journey to the ground as well as how quiet and sheltered the forest was during a heavy rain,” Grade tells Colossal. “I wanted to make a sculpture that responded to the rain directly as well as a sculpture that responded to people.”
Reservoir is constructed from heat-formed plastic parts framed with steam-bent strips of Alaskan yellow cedar. Each droplet is attached to marine nets with fishing line which are then incorporated with stainless steel rings to maintain tensions and support the tree trunks above the structure. The shape of the translucent droplets are formed from casts of human hands cupped together. “We cast ten different people’s hands for variations in scale,” Grade explains.
When rain falls or snow lands the water accumulates within Reservoir’s clear pouches, giving them their droplet-like shape. In doing slow, the installation gets heavier and lowers, while in sunny, warm weather, it rises back into its original structure as the liquid evaporates. “The sculpture rises and falls with precipitation differently each time it rains or snows,” says Grade. Springs below the installation limit the vertical range of movement, so Reservoir always remains 10 feet above the forest floor.
The dry sculpture in its original configuration weighs 70 pounds, but when filled with rainwater, it can exceed 800 pounds. Reservoir serves as a water resource for the surrounding landscape: when the water it holds evaporates, it creates a humid environment for the surrounding vegetation to flourish.
Movement also manipulates the structure of Reservoir, and, as part of the project, Arte Sella connected Grade with Andrea Rampazzo, a dance artist based in Italy. Rampazzo choreographed a performance, where four dancers would interact with the sculpture, making the installation rise and fall depending on their movements. “Each tree has a cable connecting the net to the ground running down its length via pulleys which can either engage the spring limiting its downward trajectory to 12 feet of movement or bypass the spring to a second pulley near the base of the tree at waist height,” Grade explains. “This way the dancers can pull or release any of the nine lines to create varied movement in the sculpture.”
Occurring during one day of festivities, the dance lasted 45 minutes and was performed three times during the day. “The four dancers also had the assistance of four members of my studio team to help work the lines during the performance,” says Grade. Due to more control over Reservoir, the dancers brought the sculpture down to two feet from the ground, so their bodies were fully immersed in the thousands of droplet-like forms. “Because we were lucky to have rainfall, the dancers were able to abruptly jerk the movements and shower themselves with water,” Grade explains. “Now we can watch the sculpture collect and release and move over the seasons and build upon those nuances to create a second installation. Wind may become a significant inspiration the next time.”
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Oslo-based artist Malin Bülow creates performative installations in which humans resist and submit to tension created by stretchy lycra suits. The monotone pieces have small openings at the stomach that allow participants to crawl in and easily conceal themselves, obscuring their features while highlighting their movements.
When affixed to buildings, the flexible fabric is manipulated and stretched during time-based performances, such as Bülow’s 2017 site-specific installation Firkanta elastisitet – Skulptur i spenn (Squared elasticity – Strained sculpture) with Store Salen at Kunstbanken, Hedmark Kunstsenter. For the installation, the artist covered the two entrances to the gallery with the suits, locking visitors inside for the full hour.
Other less claustrophobic installations have occurred outdoors, such as the 2017 iteration of the same performance at a former military building in Ski, outside of Oslo. In an alien-like performance that the artist describes as an “elastic sculpture” or “large-scale performative still life,” five dancers explore the tension of their tethers while attached to the structure.
Bülow hails from Switzerland and studied as a neurobiologist before receiving a Master’s degree from Oslo National Academy of the Arts in Norway. You can see more of Bülow’s work on her website. (via Sophie Gunnol)
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