Virtual Artist Talk: Surface Tension

Virtual Artist Talk: Surface Tension 

Saturday, January 16th 2021 6–7PM

Zoom in with Curator Pia Singh and the artists of Surface Tension for a virtual artist talk!

With artists: Yani AvilesAshley GillandersRosemary Holliday HallSaraNoa MarkGalen Odell-Smedley

Click here to watch a recording of the talk 

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 The images gave us no rest yet failed over  
And over despite the immensity  
Of their realism to describe the world as we really  
Knew it, and worse, as it knew us  

-Ariana Reines, A Sand Book  (2019) 

Do words, images and forms made by man proliferate culture, the way pandemics do? Is it possible for sculpture to investigate time and shifts in culture at a time of crisis? Surface Tension propositions viewers to examine how artists and their processes punctuate  our living landscape, how time can be considered a tool in an attempt to reach a broader  understanding of aesthetics during a time of crisis.  

In Surface Tension, works on view employ the language of sound, moving image, carving, 3D rendering, ceramics and woodwork, to offer a full yet abstracted notion of the relationship  between art and the non-linearity of time. One can consider our experience of time as non-linear due to our constantly shifting position within the crisis. With no way of knowing precisely when and where the virus originated from, no manmade intervention to control a viral spread, and no predictive indications of a ‘market’ to project into, what is known is solely the present. Day by day, the pandemic has been a time of reckoning. Existing social systems that fail to protect the people have turned belly-up – giving rise to people-driven movements and uprisings across the world. Through all this, nature has been the only constant; giving us energy and adversity in the same hand. The intangible nature of the virus has brought forth a form of energy that can only be generated in the act of destruction and creation (characterized as Shiva and Brahma in Vedic literature), the simultaneity of which provides us with an unpredictable natural context. It is hard for us to read the signs or to provide forms of evidence of what is ‘true’, ‘good’ or ‘false’, therefore we return to consider how history has brought us to this moment and what will be remembered from this moment on.  

According to John Berger, it is the ‘aesthetic emotion’ that one experiences, specifically at a time of uncertainty, that truly moves us. What we consider to be beautiful or aesthetically pleasing shifts, based on complex manmade ideological determinants. Berger highlights  how despite this tendency, few things remain constant - the feeling that is experienced from a flower, or a tree, from unusually formed rocks, smaller barn animals, or the light the moon  

The evolution of natural forms and the evolution of human perception have coincided to  produce the phenomenon of a potential recognition: what is and what we can see sometimes  meet at a point of affirmation. This point, this affirmation, is two-faced: what has been seen is recognized and affirmed, and at the same time the seer is affirmed by what he sees. (Berger,  2016)

In viewing the works in Surface Tension as an affirmation of our subjective experience of  crisis, each work in aims to illicit a feeling that transcends the trappings of our current  state. Constantly holding tension between knowing and not knowing, the seen and unseen,  giving birth and giving way to death; the artists offer viewers a space to meditate on our  humanity and to reflect on their position in relation to art and culture.   

Click here to see Acknowledgement, 2020 by Yani Aviles