Monday, May 26, 2014

Global View

Pre-Glo at the Centre for the Living Arts downtown Mobile is an introduction to future exhibitions: Global, opening in the fall of 2014 and the Manifest Billboard Project which will involve ten artists and one hundred billboards along the Interstate 10 Freeway, the major link between Florida and California in the Spring 2015.
Conceived and curated by Zoe Crosher with co-curator Shamin M. Momin, director of the LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division), the Manifest Billboard Project will bring a reflection about the positive-negative impact of the American expansion to the West through images projected on billboards. With the landscape as a backdrop, the story will unfold along the way. Participants include John Baldessari and Mario Ybarra who offers a preview of his contribution to the project in the Main Gallery of the center. His hallmark resides in his mixing of street culture and fine art in site specific urban interventions to highlight little known aspects of particular locations' cultural history, in particular the "barrio aesthetics" from Los Angeles. Looking at the photographs which inspired the billboards or at the giant billboards themselves, one gets a feel of disconnect:  Latinos, mariachi bands, California colors... a world away from downtown Mobile, Alabama. Travelling East to West in the United States is not only about the diversity of the countryside but also about meeting different cultures, sometimes in conflict.
The installation from Xavier de Richemont is still at the Centre feeling at home, so is the sound art installation from Nina Waisman both presented in a previous post. The lounge is filled with photographs from Allan Sekula's Black Tides series shot after the 2002 oil spill in Galicia, Spain, showing scenes unfortunately familiar along the Gulf Coast after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2006.
The Video Gallery abounds with data scrolling on a computer screen in the center of the room, their daunting projection on three walls surrounding the visitor. Global Futures: Pre-Glo provides an inescapable sight of graphs, numbers adding with a vertiginous speed, zeros multiplying or big colored blobs over a city, a country, growing like cancers, visual cues that give a reality to the numbers and add the dimension of time, somehow anticipating the future. Tom Leeser, curator, from the Center for Integrated Media at CalArts, continues the conversation started with the previous exhibition Future Tense-Futures Project about global futurism, this time in close collaboration with the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University. Numbers about prisons, immigration, oil imports and exports throughout the world, deforestation... become overwhelming, suffocating and I felt like a small dot on a big planet, vulnerable and powerless. The somber music piped through the gallery adds to the dark predictions for a future driven by the inescapable growing numbers. Four sound installations allow a respite, a different experience, far from the harsh realities depicted on the screens. Located at the cardinal points in the gallery, minimalist in concept with simple headphones on white boxes diffusing sounds made from a ship at sea, Nepalis and Tibetans chants, Icelandic Folk Poems or Brazilian drumming performance, they combine sounds from afar.
Globalization, a word for the future.

photographs by the author:
one of Mario Ybarra's billboard
screenshots from "Global Futures: Pre-Glo"

No comments: