Friday, January 15, 2010

Over Head

It's been awhile since I've written any reviews or responses on my blog, in part because I've been too busy to see anything while it's still new and fresh. But tonight I got a chance to check out a couple of wonderful exhibitions on my way to Unparalleled Fiber at Soulard Art Market (also fabulous, but I won't gush about that since I'm in the show), so I will take the opportunity to review one of them here.

Nicole Stevens' Over Head opened as the inaugural exhibition of of Beverlyear 2010, a year of women artists at Fort Gondo. This installation, featuring animation and sound work, reflects upon the economic crash of 2008 utilizing audio clips from NPR of Ann Taylor introducing the Dow and NASDAQ results and reanimated footage from the NYSE's bell-ringing archive. Stefene Russell writes some about the work on St. Louis Magazine's Look/Listen blog. (Included are links to some of the audio, some more information on Beverlyear at Fort Gondo and an interview with the artist, so check it out.)

What struck me most about this work is the sense of religious ritual. The back area of the gallery, which has been walled off by Stevens' herself, takes on a seemingly spiritual zone with the repetition of the words ringing like a chorus or mantra over and over, echoing through the partitioned space. The repeated words rang out like a litany and reminded me of many Sundays spent in church. The bell-ringing ceremony by its very nature also feeds into this feeling, and Stevens' reanimation of it as a repeated action further drives this point home.

Though I hate to draw a comparison to popular culture, Stevens' installation hearkens to some of the same commentary explored in South Park's Margaritaville episode from their thirteenth season. Stevens got me thinking about how we view the economy, how many of us feel that we don't fully comprehend it and are incapable of influencing it, how rituals play into aspects of our everyday lives and how our ideas surrounding the economy and religion are formed and understood. I recommend that you experience her work for yourself to rekindle and relate to some of these same musings.

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