(This lecture is in association with an opening
at Opal Gallery. Thanks go to Constance Lewis.)
The VESTIGES Project: Land Marks
Courtney Egan, Jan Gilbert, Debra Howell, & Michel Varisco
June 25- August 6, 2009
OPENING RECEPTION: June 25th, 7-9p
The Opal Gallery
LECTURE: Wednesday, June 24th, 7-9p at Eyedrum
Musings about the vestigial landscape and cultures of New Orleans began long before Katrina.
The VESTIGES Project, a New Orleans-based and inspired artist/writer collaborative, is celebrating its 25-year anniversary year and traveling artworks by four native Orleanians working in photography and video to Atlanta's Opal Gallery. The exhibition LAND MARKS is the first part of a pair of offerings presented by VESTIGES and Opal on this year's calendar of Atlanta Celebrates Photography. The latter portion will be a series of public art installations around town to coincide with ACP's October festivities focusing on photography across the city.
The VESTIGES Project cofounder and curator of Land Marks, artist Jan Gilbert, notes
“In the past the group has investigated sites that are unknown, overlooked or historically camouflaged, in order to question traditional and commonly accepted ideas of the spectacular. Here, we have an intimate knowledge of each other's artworks and often share aesthetic inquiries, yet there is an absence of formalized or intentional collaboration.”
While the Katrina flood experience certainly has impacted these artists, their works on view straddle pre and post Katrina experiences in ways that appear prescient. Frequent VESTIGES collaborator, Andrei Codrescu, who made the introduction of the VESTIGES longstanding efforts to Opal's Constance Lewis just after Katrina, wrote in an email “Dear Jan: mazel'tov on getting back in your house! VESTIGES is 25? Amazingly prophetic. Did you have any idea that our vestigial burg would become the biggest vestige-display territory in the U.S.? Artist's intuition & life, inevitably.”
COURTNEY EGAN "My artwork is concerned with what happens when different rates of change collide. I employ techniques of film-style “special effects,” but to ends other than those of traditional narrative cinema. I focus on poetic possibilities in time-based media, an approach counter to the mainstream.
John Berger wrote that traditional, mainstream narratives are always battles that end in victory and defeat; but poems, as an alternative literary form, “cross the battlefields, tending the wounded, listening to the wild monologues of the triumphant or the fearful,” promising that “what has been experienced cannot disappear as if it has never been.” My most recent work reflects on moments and witness experiences. The importance of witnessing is deeply felt, a result of living in post-Katrina New Orleans."
DEBRA HOWELL Another VESTIGES cofounder (along with Kristen Struebing-Beazley). Through her series of photo-based narrative landscapes and waterscapes such as The River, Howell presents us with almost postcard perfection images that draw us into her ever so slightly surreal locations. Howell refers to her constructed digital photographs as “elaborate meditations on beauty, reality and control that explore the eternal question 'is Life about the Journey or the Destination?'”
In Land Marks, with her compact installation Photovella!, visitors are invited to participate in the ongoing development of the art as they are asked to write their own short illustrated novellas using the photos provided of people (the “who”), passages (the “how”) and places (the “where”) as inspiration.
JAN GILBERT Gilbert, who often explores through mixed media the boundaries of books in her artist books, sees her work French Landscape/Dump as a “flattened accordion book.” The regularly-spaced serial seams suggest how these pages might have undulated in real 3-d space as the landscape does throughout the image. Yet, as the trailing dump emerges at the lower border, it's as if she is calling into question via the form, “Who is it flattening this book or destroying this earth?”
MICHEL VARISCO “Even in it's beat up glory, I watch nature heal itself and witness it heal humans, despite our relentless assault on its and our own survival”
Shifting Landscapes is a series of photographs by New Orleans native, Michel Varisco that focuses on the Louisiana wetlands-swamps, marshes and barrier islands. Varisco looks beyond the obvious in order to document the subtle, intimate qualities of the wetlands --smoke that rises from the water, delicate patterns of light, verdant shifts from season to season. The series is a study of the land that both nurtures and absorbs back into itself, a place that protects and challenges other places by its sheer existence and a place of spectacular beauty and constant change.
* This exhibition coincides with an artists' conversation between participating Vestiges artists: Courtney Egan, Debra Howell, Jan Gilbert, Michel Varisco. With an introduction by Atlanta based artist and curator Andy Ditzler.
Eyedrum Suite 8 290 MLK Jr. Dr. SE Atl, GA 30312 USA (downtown, near the Mattress Factory)
For information please contact:
The Opal Gallery
Atlanta, GA 30307