Review: AND I FEEL FINE at ATHICA Ushers In Renewed Energy

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Installation view, AND I FEEL FINE, ATHICA, January 25-March 16, 2013. L-R: Anthony Wislar, Born In A Hospital, 2013, desk, photocopy, paper, urethane plastic, turntable, dubplate 7” record, ink, dimensions variable, courtesy of the artist and ATHICA, R: Suko Presseau, Shelter, 2012, c-prints, dimensions variable, courtesy of the artist and ATHICA.

Currently on view at ATHICA (Athens Institute for Contemporary Art) in Athens, GA is AND I FEEL FINE, a curated group exhibition that brings together internationally-renowned artist Paul Pfeiffer and nationally emerging artists Caitlin Foster, Liz Fuller, Maya Hayuk, Zachary Fabri, David Mazure, Suko Presseau, and Anthony Wislar. [January 25-March 10, 2013]. ATHICA is celebrating its 10th Anniversary and has a new gallery manager and curator in Hope Hilton, an artist and Atlanta native. AND I FEEL FINE pays homage to Athens’ own band R.E.M. and their 1987 song “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.”

Kelly Taylor Mitchell: Kin, Spirit, Seed on view at Westobou Gallery, Augusta

At first glance, three works visually dominate the gallery, two of which are large and colorful paintings by Maya Hayuk. The deceptively simple paintings, Remain in Light 1 and Remain in Light 2 (both 2012) combine vibrant woven overlays of color bands, recalling tapestries or Ukranian Easter eggs. The other most visually commanding work is Suko Presseau’s site-specific photographic installation titled Shelter (2012-present). Presseau’s installation becomes ever more enchanting once you learn about her impetus—Japanese philosopher Masnobua Fukouka’s idea that farmers should live in direct contact with their land. In response, Presseau slept for 22 nights last winter on her land and photographed her walks to and from various sleeping shelters. The resultant 44 photographs, installed as a large wall cluster, are not only beautiful and curious, but also evoke the potential questions and respective contemplation.

Maya Hayuk, Remain in Light 1, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 60×48 inches, courtesy of the artist and ATHICA.

Other perhaps more quiet works slowly command your attention and curiosity. Anthony Wislar’s site-specific sound installation, Born in a Hospital (2013), belies its own haunting quality. Comprising a desk, photocopy, paper, urethane plastic, turntable, dubplate 7” record, and ink, Wislar recreates, from memory, a poem by Ray Rehayem—because the original text no longer exists. Wislar recorded the audio using text-to-voice software that “reads” his recollection, and thus essence, of the poem. The audio was then pressed to vinyl. However, this piece is only activated by pressing ‘play’ on the turntable.

Two black and white digital videos by Zachary Fabri poetically elaborate on obstacles and freedom. In Chanting Black Clouds (2012), Fabri runs across the screen with a cluster of black helium-filled balloons tethered to his long dreadlocks. At first, this may seem a bit humorous. However, the question Fabri raises is how much does our perception of an obstacle factor in via fear and trepidation compared to the actuality of an obstacle? Fabri’s second video, Forget Me Not, as my Tether is Clipped (2012), perhaps answers his own question. Fabri appears again with a cluster of helium-filled balloons tethered to his dreadlocks. As the video progresses, one by one, the artist literally and symbolically cuts his tethers. The balloons drift away into the sky, with their clipped dreadlocks in tow. A courageous and beautiful act that embraces the investment and diligence of growing his hair for years, Fabri accepts the subsequent freedom of its release.

Zachary Fabri, still from Chanting Black Clouds, 2012, digital video, courtesy of the artist and ATHICA.

A curious site-specific wall installation by David Mazure entitled Defeated/Amputees (War) (2011-present), occupies a large wall expanse. Calling into question the warfare of corporations against the working class, the starkly contrasting pattern, which initially reads as wallpaper, is in fact powdered tire rubber silk-screened on clayboards. During the opening reception, the artist performed a slide-based artist talk; Mazure gave away certain tiles from the installation to audience members that revealed an image silk-screened in white on the wall of Death, from The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

David Mazure, Defeated/Amputees (War), 2011-present, silk-screened clayboards, powdered tire rubber, black ink, site-specific installation, dimensions variable, courtesy of the artist and ATHICA.

One of the highlights of AND I FEEL FINE was the screening of Paul Pfeiffer’s Morning After The Deluge (2003). Pfeiffer is an internationally-renowned artist and recipient of the Whitney’s Bucksbaum Award, the world’s largest prize given to an individual artist. In 2007 he was visiting artist in The Lamar Dodd School of Art’s Visiting Artist/Scholar Program. This, however, is the first time a work of his has been exhibited in Athens, GA. For this screening, an adjacent, separate windowless space next door to ATHICA’s gallery space showcased this video projection. The work shows a simultaneous sunrise and sunset in Cape Cod that is subtly digitally manipulated. The work quietly calls into question our notions of time and landscape by altering our experience with a nontraditional horizon.

Kelly Taylor Mitchell: Kin, Spirit, Seed on view at Westobou Gallery, Augusta

In the press release, a question is posed – “…what is happening?” AND I FEEL FINE addresses and expands this multifaceted question with beauty, thoughtfulness, inquiry, and contemplation in an energetic way. The exhibition successfully incorporated well-attended affiliated events: HUB: A new series for artists and art-lovers to gather and discuss ideas, trends, and opportunities; Artist Talk & Performance by visiting artist Zachary Fabri (listed last week in Huffington Post’s Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know); Screenings of Paul Pfeiffer’s Morning After the Deluge; Constellation Walk with visiting artist Suko Presseau at 3 Porch Farm; and Panel Discussion: The Apocalypse Didn’t Happen—Now What?

The exhibition is on view through March 10th.


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