Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Exhibit inspired by May, 1968 revolution in France opens at Wesleyan Friday

Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Wesleyan University
238 Washington Ter., Middletown, (860) 685-3355
Andrea Ray: Desire
Apr. 29—May 25, 2008.
Opening reception: Fri., May 2, 5—7 p.m.

Press release

May 2, 2008 marks the 40th anniversary of the student uprisings in Paris, which began on that day in 1968. Andrea Ray's three-part installation, Desire, re-visits that historic moment to pose a question, longingly and perhaps romantically, about the present: Could the Paris model of community, social and political agency be employed in this country at a time when deepening crisis is coupled with fear and apathy?

Desire reflects on this against a backdrop of the Paris student revolts of 1968, the plays of French writer and activist Marguerite Duras and the dinners she often hosted for artists, writers and political activists.

The exhibition, which runs from April 29 through May 25, 2008, consists of a multi-media installation that uses photography, sculpture and audio. Admission to Andrea Ray: Desire is free. The Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery is located at 283 Washington Terrace in Middletown, Conn. Nina Felshin, Zilkha Gallery's curator of exhibitions, curated the exhibition.

The public is invited to attend the opening reception on Friday, May 2 from 5—7 p.m. with an artist talk at 5:30.

As its title might suggest, Ray's work ruminates on desire, on the state of wanting and lack. A thread that weaves together the parts of Desire is the presence of absence. By evoking human presence through its absence, Ray allows the viewer to project his or her own memories, imagination and longings.

The three components of Desire include "Occupied", a series of soft focus photographs of now empty intersections of Paris streets once blocked by students. The photographs hang on the walls of Zilkha's North Gallery surrounding "The Gift," a sculptural installation consisting of a dinner table embedded with speakers and chairs. At her dinner parties on rue Saint-Benoit, Duras often served a homemade soup. "The Gift," then, is a recorded dinner party. It is the result of an actual dinner party at the artist's home at which she served a "conceptual soup" to honor Duras' memory. The conversations at the dinner party were recorded with a microphone at each seat. They are replayed in "The Gift" on individual speakers at each place setting. "Rehearse," a theatrical space with an audio component of a play rehearsal based on Duras' screenplay for the 1959 film Hiroshima Mon Amour.

Together the three pieces reflect a repetitive search for things seemingly unattainable—a complete understanding of war, an experience of productive social change through protest and an association with an effective community.

The intersection of several experiences and encounters was the inspiration for this work. "I became frustrated with a feeling of a lack of community and a sense of agency as a resident of New York City," comments Ray, adding, "I felt that political protests in the wake of 9/11 had become empty gestures." During a residency in Paris in 2004, she discovered that all she was interested in "was either dead or gone—the intelligentsia, May 1968, important theorists Marguerite Duras." For Ray, Desire was motivated by a desire to "align [herself] with a history, build on it and enliven it to move forward."

Andrea Ray received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), a MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and completed the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program in 1997. She has exhibited in New York at the Sculpture Center, Apex Art, P.S. 1 Clocktower Gallery and White Columns. She is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and has been awarded residencies at P.S. 1 in Long Island City, NY; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; Ville de Paris; and the Wanås Foundation in Sweden.


Post a Comment

<< Home