Visitor Assistants from the ICA Stage their own Exhibition
Visitor assistants (VA's) working at the ICA are employed by the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) to inform the visitors and
to protect the art but their role is not to create the art. Yet most of the VA's
are recent art graduates.
What the VA's longed for was the
opportunity to display their own art in an exhibition type setting
where the work on display was fully their own but with their
understanding of art galleries significantly influenced by having
worked at the ICA.
That very idea has been an ongoing conversation for years and, in 2012,
due to the
confluence of several factors, the exhibition became a reality.
Three VA's, Anthony Montouri, Chris Ford and Jordan Lloyd, acting as
curators, contacted everyone who had worked at the ICA over the last
year (turnover is
high). The result is an exhibition by 29 artists displaying a
wide range of artistic interests including painting, photography, mixed
media, video, video games, textiles and sculture, and for the opening
reception, spoken word and live music.
The exhibition opened to a sellout crowd (though admission was
free). The young artists attracted a youthful crowd but here and
there you could catch a glimpse of the more mature folk who looked a
lot like Mom and Dad.
Clear from the quality of the exhibition, the participating ICA visitor
assistants are already accomplished technicians with a demonstrated
enthusiasm for exploring new avenues of artistry.
The Howard Art Project, 1486 Dot Ave, Oct
27-Nov 11, 2012.
October 27th through November 11th
Opening Reception Saturday, October 27th 6-9pm
Open Sat & Sun 12-4pm or by appointment
visitor assistants discussed their work, giving us insight into their
creative processes: Kevin Smith's reproduction of the dream
machine, Jordan Lloyd's video reflecting on her VA work, Julia
Atwood-Golebiewski's woven paper art and Dylon Hurwitz's painting
made by dancing feet.
Conversations with Artists
|Kevin Smith "Deam Machine 3"
several accounts describe somewhat differently how the first "dream machine" was
invented, they tend to involve the beat writer William Burroughs and
his soul mate, Brion Gysin.
On December 21, 1958, as Gysin's diary reports, he started to
hallucinate while travelling on a bus in southern France. He had fallen
asleep, leaning with his head against the window pane and the
flickering sunlight caused by the bus passing by a row of trees brought
on the effect. His diary states: ‘an overwhelming flood of
intensely bright patterns in supernatural colours exploded behind my
eyelids: a multi-dimensional kaleidoscope whirling out through space.
The vision stopped abruptly when we left the trees. ’
Known as a stroboscopic effect, appropriately spaced flickering in the alpha range is what brings on the hallucinations.
Kevin Smith's artwork consists of replicating one of the several dream
machine models generated in the late 1950's. "I did not invent the
actual device," Kevin said. "I took Gysin's idea and interpreted
it by recreating it. What is interesting about this artwork is that it
is the only artwork that was ever
designed to be looked at with your eyes closed."
enjoyed the challenge of building a dream machine, an exact duplicate
of the original, from scratch. Look into the machine at the same level
as the bulb," he said. "Close your eyes and it creates a stroboscopic
What was missing from this reproduction of art from the 50's?
Only the comfortable bus seat where exhibition visitors might recline,
fall asleep and experience the same hallucinations as did Gysin on Dec 21, 1958.
Great challenge, Kevin, and beatiful results.
maintaining the requirements of her work as an ICA
assistant uppermind, Ms. Jordan Lloyd also dreams about expressing her
own creativity while working as an assistant - like, for example,
dancing and expressing her joy in the galleries. When there are
visitors, so go her thoughts and the tap-tapping of her toes.
This plethora of fanciful thinking led
her to put together a video engagingly communicating the nature of her
job and also her creative longings. That is her contribution to
Jordan's friend Ingrid taped the video with ICA exhibit hall settings
mocked in Jordan's apartment. No dancing in the ICA halls, after
hours or not, so Jordan performed outside the ICA. Her joyful
dancing, set against the backdrop of the ICA's grand building, along
with special effects that emphasize her creative energy, are contrasted
with the solitary still life poses of Jordan, on the job waiting
patiently for a gallery visitor, so she can answer questions and speak
about the art she so dearly loves, and, by the way, also guard the
Two scenes from video "Clocking (In/Out)" by Jordan Lloyd
"How did I create the special effects? I used Final Cut."
"I was motivated to create this video because in my mind I create it
every day on the job. You're in a creative environment in a
museum and that causes me automatically to be creative in my mind. So,
yes, I've included
in the video a section that shows me being really restless but I have
also included a section that shows how much I enjoy working at the ICA."
the two me's, the part I enjoyed the most in the video shows me
having a lot of fun. That's what I love about the visitor
assistance job. It can be a lot of fun. And, yes, it's
true. I have this idea, this fantasy that I would dance in the
galleries every chance I get. "
"We filmed the dancing outside on a
rainy day and I really
thought I was going to get pneumonia because it was cold out but it was well worth it."
The 2 minutes and 35 seconds of final video was cut down from at least
a half hour of footage. Jordan said it took a ouple hours to film
and about eight hours to edit. "On top of that," she said, "I
finished the video, then scrapped it and started all over again. The
first one had more special effects and I decided simpler was better."
Good job! Jordan. Never stop dancing.
Julia Atwood- Golebiewski
Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996) was an American, Cuban-born visual artist,
known for his minimal installations and sculptures in which he used
materials such as strings of lightbulbs, clocks, stacks of paper, or
packaged hard candies.
Julia tells the story of how her art came to be created.
2012,, the ICA elected to display one of Gonzalez-Torres' works of art
and to do
that, the ICA had to apply to his family trust for permission to use
one of his ideas. The trust provides a description of the work
of art, in this case, blue and white swirl candies wrapped in a
translucent wax paper which can be layed out on the museum floor
in a particular way or placed in a pile in the corner. In this
piece, the weight of the candy is required to be 355 pounds which was
combined healthy weight of Torres and his partner (a lot of
candy). The exhibit invites ICA visitors to take a piece of the
candy to experience the art work through eating part of it.
Julia admits that "During the course of the exhibition, the VA's ate quite a bit of
Julia's story is interesting because of the, perhaps, unexpected
dynamic created by the VA's consuming the candy, which from
the artist's perspective is exactly what should be happening.
"I felt guilty in a way because we were disposing of all those candy
wrappers. So early on I started collecting the papers from all the VA's
and I started weaving them into strips. I learned how to fold these
candy wrappers as a child and used the same technique because the
purpose of folding is to create
little strips that you can
Julia Atwood-Golebiewski, "Ideal Weight"
So what is causing the blue color to bleed through in your artwork? "The blue," she said, "is the residue from the
candy. I wasn't going to remove the candy off the wrappers if
there was any. In whatever form I got the wrapper, that's how I used it."
Her artwork is entitled "Ideal Weight" and reflects the fact that she
used exactly 355 candy wrappers, the same number prescribed for the
weight of the original artwork. Julia likes the effect of the color
blue bleeding through in an almost fleeting manner. "The artist,"
she said, "stated that the blue color
was a happy memory."
is to be commended for continuing the theme prescribed by the artist,
not only in honoring the number 355 but in creating an artwork that is
also suggestive of "a happy memory."
Hurwitz, a 16-year trained classical pianist, is also an artist and
seeks to bridge the two worlds. "I have over 16 years of
classical piano training so
I've always been interested in painting and music. I'm looking for ways
to bridge the two together. So this is my attempt at doing that."
Mussorgsky met artist and architect Viktor Hartmann in 1870 and quickly
became friends but not long after (1873), Hartmann died from an
aneurysm. The sudden loss (Hartmann was 39)
shook Mussorgsky and others. An exhibition of over 400 Hartmann
works was organized in the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg,
Russia in February and March 1874.
Mussorgsky's creative response was
to compose Pictures at an Exhibition in six weeks. The music, depicting
an imaginary tour of an art collection, includes individual movements
that allude directly to works by Hartmann. The first movement,
entitled "The Gnome" is the basis for Dylan's work.
How Dylan created this artwork - assisted in its creation - is
unusual. He begins with a layer of acrylic, then places the
canvas flat on the ground. With buckets of oil paint along the
edge of the canvas, Dylan's friend, Imari Pratcher, trained in ballet,
dances on the canvas while Dylan plays the piano, the painting
effected through Imari's dance steps with feet dipped in the
pots of paint. Imari described what it was like to dance as he
listened to the music being played. "When I close my
eyes, the music hits my body and determines how I dance."
"The Gnome" lasts only three minutes and during the entire composition,
no words are spoken. Imari knows to begin when Dylan starts
playing and to stop when Dylan stops playing.
Dancer Imari Pratcher and artist Dylan Hurwitz, "The Gnome"
"Who," we asked is the artist, you or the dancer?"
"So I have actually given over to the dancer the
ability to create the art. So there were three colors that the artist,
the dancer, could use and he gets to choose which color he wants to use
when in his dance. In addition, in this piece I did not give any
suggestions to the dancer as to
the nature of the dance he should perform when applying the
paint." But he adds,, "That's
something that I'm working on with the next pieces that I'm doing,
where I actually get into the choreography, providing some guidelines
the dancer is done, the canvas is not. Artist Dylan adds the
finishing touches to the canvas - clearly different from the look
created by the dancer foot painting - bright yellow, white and black
more regular shapes that give structure to the painting and
"What caused you to add your own special touches to the painting after
the dancer was done? What inspired you? Was it your memory of the dance
or how you played the music? Because you elected to add your own
expression to the canvas, something must have inspired you."
Dylan: "It's really about responding to
what I saw on the canvas, working against what I saw, creating a type
of tension and enhancing what I saw on the canvas. Actually, I
was responding to everything I know about the
canvas, the dancing, the music and the visual effect created."
Dylan sees his work as a continuum of transformation. Art
motivated Mussorgsky to create music and Mussorgsky's music
reinterpreted by Amari and himself are bringing the form back to the
We should all be so lucky as to have a friend who is willing to dance on canvas for us. Great Job, Amari and Dylan.
Photos of Selected Art and the Opening Reception 10/27/12
Christopher Albert Lee, "California Cheese"
Sage Schmett, "Pop-Up Cake House"
Jasmine Spear, "Cat"
Isabel Donlon, "Greco-Roman
Bedazzled 'Diva' Jacket"
Matthew Daly, "Blue Dung"
Chris Goodale, "Easy Rider"
Rachel Manly, "Cotton Candy Block"
|Posted: October 28, 2012
Nancy J Conrad