VAGARIES OF THE COMMONS


curated by Sarah Fritchey
July 25 – September 13, 2014
Opening Reception on Friday, July 25 @ 5:00 – 8:00 pm
A two-day conference on September 12 & 13 and a performance series will accompany the exhibition.

I have collaborated with Dr. Gary Aronsen Ph.D (Research Associate, Anthropology Laboratories at Yale University) in installing my 3 channel projection and sculptural pieces of Shrine of the Common & Undivided Land with his research addressing the bodies found under the Lincoln Oak Tree  after its fall on October 31, 2012 on the New Haven Green. This installation is divided between this exhibit and the one currently showing at the New Haven Museum in the Nothing is Set in Stone

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Artists and contributors include: Brad Armstrong, Ricardo Miranda and Brooke SingerLani Asuncion and Gary Aronsen; Mengyu ChenThe Elm City Dance CollectiveJason Friedes; Focus Lessness (Michael Romano and Milton Laüfer), Occupy New HavenPhil LiqueProject Storefronts;Scott Shuldt; and Under 91 Project. 
Projects that are a part of the exhibition include:

  • “I’m Open Come On In” by focuslessness, a daily take over of the Artspace sandwich board. View images from the project, here.
  • Artist Phil Lique is taking over the Artspace homepage each day, view the project here
  • The Excess Project presents a series of posters about excuses people give about not composting (designed by Jerome Harris) here.

The concept of “the commons” predates the feudal era in early Germanic and Roman settlements, where communal land ownership prevailed.  Originally, the concept referred to the public’s interest and right to access essential natural resources that are held in common and not owned privately, including land, water, animals and fish.  Gradually, as royalty and then a central government gained power, the notion of communal land ownership disappeared and the concept of “the commons” evolved.

This exhibition presents a group of artists, based in and around greater New Haven, who make works that operate within the penumbras and cracks of the legal systems that oversee its “commons”.  These grey zones are the flexible and the often vague environments from which the show’s title takes its inspiration.

The show identifies four specific sectors and human rights questions addressed by artists practicing in and around New Haven.  These include: the material commons (who has the right to order the build and name structures, homes, cities, maps?), the knowledge commons (who has access higher education, public libraries, the internet?), the aesthetic commons (who has the right to define and control image production?) and the affective commons (how are emotions policed and kept public/private?).  The essential question that each work asks is: who has the right to have a voice?

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Nothing is Set in Stone: The Lincoln Oak & New Haven Green Exhibit

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Nothing is Set in Stone: The Lincoln Oak and the New Haven Green 

Opening at the New Haven Museum on April 30th @ 5:00-8:00 PM [Map Here]

The exhibit will be on view during April 30 – November 02, 2014  [Facebook Post]

Nothing is Set in Stone: The Lincoln Oak and the New Haven Green is a pairing of contemporary art and archaeological analysis featuring new works by:

Lani Asuncion
Susan Clinard
Erich Davis
Michael Quirk
Jeff Slomba
Rachael Vaters-Carr
Alison K. Walsh

In October 2012, winds from Hurricane Sandy toppled the Lincoln Oak, revealing a partial human skeleton among the tree’s exposed roots, along with two buried time capsules, creating an enigmatic story that captured the imagination of the entire country.

For the artistic portion of this exhibit, the artists used branches, limbs, or pieces of the trunk of the Lincoln Oak to interpret the history of the tree and the discoveries found beneath it.

The exhibit also features the results of the on-going archaeological analysis of the bones and materials found beneath the tree. This includes displays of the time capsule contents, and the inquiries into the possible identities of the skeletal remains.

For more information please contact info(at)newhavenmuseum.org or Jason Bischoff-Wurstle at 203-562-4183 x 18

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I will be showing a new work created for this exhibit entitled Shrine of the Common & Undivided Lands which is a multi-media piece that incorporates a one-channel video Reverence and sculptural elements.

Shrine of the Common & Undivided Lands is a memorial tribute to the bones found coiled within the uprooted Lincoln Tree, and all the hundreds of other bodies buried under the Green. In the video Reverence, performers Kate Gonzales and Julie Riccio animate the branches of the tree with a ritual like dance. The cement sculptural base refers to the time capsules found under the tree with a portion of one that was casted into the bone remains of a child and his/her marble, and the ash is derived from the branches of the tree. The large bowl within the cement base is for collecting pennies left by visitors, to show respect and remembrance.

LINCOLN OAK TREE PROJECT: Cement, Paper, & Copper

After somehow lifting an 80 lb. bag of cement into my car (with the help of getting a second bag from Dustin DeMilio, thank you for the help I don’t think I could have lifted another one alone) brought it into my studio and casted the form for the shrine portion of my piece.

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Then after careful preparation (wearing gloves & respirator), taping down the forms that would become the negative of the piece and spraying the inside of the mold with silicon, I began the mixing. Man does it take a lot of energy to mix cement, was not an easy task. After about an hour the piece was all poured into the mold that I left for a week to cure. Thankfully cement is caustic so the fact that my water to cement ratio may not have been 100% accurate did not ruin the mold.

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Returning after a week of letting the piece sit, at first the piece did not budge but after a bit of nudging with a mallet the piece separated from the mold. The glass forms were not easy to remove and had to be smashed with a hammer. All and all casting cement was not as impossible or difficult as I thought it may be and love how the piece came out.

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The head pieces for the dancers was tricky to conceptualize. I wanted the pieces to be light visually and physically and have a unit like multiplicity, the triangle form worked perfectly. At first I wanted to use copper, but the metal was to hard and I was worried it might hurt the dancers when then were wearing and performing with it. I decided to use vellum paper because it had a nice translucent quality but was durable when put together in units. This is one week in.

Last week I added the copper leaf to the inside of the cement bowls.

Lincoln Oak Tree Project: Collecting Wood

Today I meet up with project director Jason Bischoff-Wurstle and Zeb Esselstyn with East Rock Park. I was also able to briefly meet some of the other artist participating in the project; there will be another meeting to introduce all of us to one anther and discuss who will work best in which space at the New Haven Museum.

The next part of the project will incorporates finding dance artists to work with and creating the sculptural forms that will be used in the piece. Now that I have the wood I have a better sense of how the forms will be created and have begun thinking of how the video element will fit into the overall installation. I have already been able to get connected with a couple of dancers and hope to communicate and possibly collaborate with the Elm City Dance Collective and the Broken Umbrella Theater. Depending on how many dancers participate the clothing aspect could possibly become a immensely large part of the project.

Once materials are in hand a project wheels always begin with good consistent momentum forward. I am very excited to see these pieces of wood take form and cannot wait to know who is going to commit to being involved in the dance/video portion of the piece.