Eve Marie Blasinsky
If you want to get into the Halloween mood early this year, then go visit the Samek Art Gallery’s newest exhibit, “Dusk to Dusk: Unsettled, Unraveled, Unreal.”
A few words that might come to mind when walking into the gallery are: “uneasy,” “dark” and “somber.” However, putting any labels on this eclectic group of pieces proves difficult.
The display features a diversity of mediums, including painting, photography, digital media and sculpture; there’s even a diorama configured as a mini-theater, complete with curtains and black light. The collection boasts works from Louise Bourgeois, Huma Bhabha, Salvador Dali, Yang Shaobin, James Aldridge and many others.
Pam Campanaro, operations manager of the Samek Gallery, described Director Richard Rinehart’s process in assembling the exhibit. Rinehart visited a private collector in the Netherlands and hand-picked the works. This is the first time these works have been exhibited together in the U.S.
“He opted to go with a mood, rather than asking a theoretical question,” Campanaro said.
Campanaro stated that she and Rinehart “felt heavier” after installing the exhibit over the summer, a process which included painting over the bright white walls of the Samek with a dark grey color.
“He wanted to completely transform the space,” Campanaro said.
When a foundation seminar class visited the gallery, Campanaro encouraged students to look for “layers of meaning” hidden within the works.
Kiriko Masek ’16 was drawn to a massive photograph entitled “Generation.” At first look, the image evokes a typical class photo, with children standing in two lines facing the camera.
“The kids seemed normal at first, but there’s something off about the proportions,” Masek said.
That’s because the faces are, in fact, not real faces, but rather composites of hundreds of school photos, compiled and altered by Dutch artist Ruud van Empel.
Many works in “Dusk to Dusk” meditate on the effacement of identity and the dissolution of the individual vis-à-vis technology, media and political repression. Throughout the exhibit, representations of the human face in particular are distorted, concealed or eliminated entirely.
Conversely, other pieces seem to reconstruct the human out of new materials: a tree trunk, metal or, in the case of Huma Bhabha’s sculpture, pieces of garbage.
Many students gravitated towards a multi-media project entitled “Dusk to Dusk.”
In this piece, two film sequences are projected simultaneously onto the wall of the gallery. In one, an African-American mother stares morosely in the direction of her young son, who repeatedly bounces a ball against the wall with his back towards the camera. In the other, a white mother in a neo-Edwardian, unnaturally white domestic space tends to a baby hidden within a cradle. Both scenes are infused with a mood of melancholy and dejection, which climaxes when the children’s “real” identities are finally revealed.
The exhibit is open to the public and will run until Nov. 19.