Great Rivers Biennial 2012 makes you think about space
Discarded tarps, tangled wooden baseboards, delicate photographs of concrete walls, black sketches on white paper – this broad range of materials fill CAM’s gallery spaces with the “Great Rivers Biennial 2012” exhibit that recognizes three up-and-coming or mid-career artists who have made considerable contributions to the local art community. The selected artists are David Johnson, Asma Kazmi and Mel Trad - all of whom have created a new body of work for this show.
Capturing delicate moments with stark attention to light and space and a poignant sense of depth, artist David Johnson blurs the lines between the public and the private with his installation Institutional Etiquette and Strange Overtones. Johnson uses a large-format camera to capture moments in the home or workplace that convey the passage of time, sense of depth, or spatial and object relationships. With this project, Johnson focuses on the intimate moments of CAM’s offices, galleries and the homes of patrons, focusing on light, shadows and the passage of time on our environments. The focused sense of Johnson’s work blurs the lines between these locations, and the photographs are woven together, creating a cohesive movement throughout the installation. Johnson’s work causes the viewer to slow down, contemplating the spaces in his frames. He invites you to reconsider the spaces around you – ironically, some of the works being the space in which you are standing at CAM.
When: Now through Aug. 12, 2012
Where: CAM, 3750 Washington Blvd.
Asma Kazmi questions the concept of artistic authorship with her project that focuses on adult literacy programs in St. Louis. Showcasing the sketches of three individuals who participated in her project, Kazmi has created an installation that calls in to question the concept of written communication. Each stroke, word, or sketched object conveys a meaning – for the most part, that meaning is unclear in the works, but the installation allows the viewer to think about its purpose or possibilities of the meaning. The intimate gallery becomes an interactive space with a film projection of her participants creating sketches. More interestingly, Kazmi has invited us to participate using a unique, double table – a surface for writing underneath with another panel just above, presumably to mimic the feeling of disconnect between author and mark, the illiterate and written communication. Kazmi invites us to evaluate our relationship between meaning and signifiers – text and meaning – visual and the conceptual.
Sparsely populating two rooms of the exhibit, Mel Trad’s work incorporates and manipulates found objects to address the concept of art and how we as humans perceive these objects. A minimalist, working mostly with discarded things such as tarps, wood, glass and metal, Trad uses her work to bring light to the way in which we view space and our own understanding of spatial relationships – the object, the body, and the spaces around us. Trad has created poignant arrangements by limiting the number of pieces, which allows the viewer to consider each relationship between the work and the space around the object. These works are enhanced with her precise use of materials – some of which reflect our own presence in the gallery or focus our attention with the use of line or shape.
In the architecture and spaces, the people who live here, the discarded junk from local yards – St. Louis, the city, is the connecting thread between these exhibits and creatively represented in their work. Not to say that the city can be broken down into these minimal parts, but these three separate shows, while building from a wide range of interests, motivations and media, can be viewed together as contemporary installation of St. Louis.
Katie Hasler, the Visitor Services Manager at The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, is new to St. Louis. The Beacon has asked her to share her critical thoughts as she learns about the local arts scene.