Art as an action 

Visual Art

When Contemporary Art Speaks
Through Dec. 31
Work by Stephanie Brooks at iMOCA
iMOCA’s luminous, yet quaint gallery sets the stage for an intimate exploration of a select group of contemporary artists’ attempts to redefine art’s traditional means of communication and reinterpret the viewer’s role in the art process. Upon entering the gallery, a stark white wall greets you with large black text: “You have a nice … (day, ass, attitude).” Stephanie Brooks’ minimalist work asks you to fill in the blank, immediately introducing you to a concept that is played out throughout the gallery — the concept of art as an action, an experience, a moment. Harrell Fletcher’s video piece “Blot Out the Sun” directly addresses the concept of viewer as participant — viewer as art. An ordinary gas station becomes the extraordinary stage for a collective reenactment of James Joyce’s classic Ulysses. Burly mechanics, pump attendees, station patrons and random passers-by are prompted by cue-cards to read random quotes from the film. What results is a simple, cozy, yet sporadic video in which the unassuming and, at times, unknowing become actors in the production of art. Adam Pendleton works to further break the barriers between artist and viewer in his piece entitled “Every Part of Me.” As an adult, he is plagued by the vague memory of a stream-of-conscious poem hearkening back to his days as a child. In an intimate self-exploration, he displays the poem as washed, muted and unassuming text that sprawls across the upper side of the gallery wall. Isolated and alone, the words look meager as they contrast with the vivid white wall. The letters themselves huddle together — not according to grammatical principles, but one’s natural speech pattern. Read the artist’s words: pause here, breathe there, slur here, sigh there, stop now. The result is a writhing, personal message between the artist and the viewer. There are more worthy pieces in this collection which I invite you to explore with an open mind. In this exhibit, the sum of the artists’ works creates not a traditional static object, but a living, breathing and interactive art experience. Whether the artist asks you to listen, watch, read along, push or grab, she is in effect asking you to become an integral facet of the work of art. When Contemporary Art Speaks creates an interesting role reversal in which the viewer is invited, in fact demanded to partake in the art process. iMOCA is located at 340 N. Senate. The show runs through Dec. 31; 634-6622.

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