Co-curated with Elizabeth M. Grady and Julie McKim
The Displacement exhibition promoted dialogue about the rapid development of places, communities, and neighborhoods, and the resulting emotional and physical displacement of individuals within the urban context. Art and the lives of cultural producers can serve as metaphors for broader spatial, social, economic, and political dislocations. They go through seemingly endless cycles of discovering disregarded and thus affordable corners in which to live and practice their craft, are targeted as a market segment, creating value and drawing new businesses and real estate development, raising the profile of their neighborhoods, and subsequently being priced out of the very niches they’ve struggled to carve out for themselves. We organized a community forum entitled, “Room for Creativity,” presenting perspectives of many local activists and artists in dialogue about challenges and opportunities.
Photographs of the exhibition and related performances can be found at this link. The artists in the exhibition engage this notion in various ways. Some, like Irit Batsry and Daniel Rozin, question the place of the individual. Batsry’s work alternately fragments and removes the presence of the human body, which is however implied through the view of the camera lens. The subjectivity of this device is highlighted by her use of distorting mirrors to reflect desolate, decaying buildings, which shift continually depending on the viewer’s position, just as one’s position on real estate development depends on whether one is participating in, or being excluded from the new economic paradigm for the site in question. Rozin’s work offers us the opportunity to examine our own physicality through a scanner, darkly, as our movements are detected and reproduced by a sensor and projected in pixelated, partially abstracted form before us for our own investigation.
Andy Graydon explores architecture, with Graydon recording its nuances and development, and using a digital projection to highlight the relationship between sound and space. The risks inherent in building and life are the theme of Alejandro Almanza Pereda’s precarious work. Massive installations made of teetering furniture and lit fluorescent bulbs submerged in water baths that threaten to electrocute artist and viewer alike point to the delicacy of life. And, as in the current installation, concrete blocks resting on delicate clear lightbulbs, suggest the reliance of life on architectural elements (the power source runs through the blocks), but also its simultaneous vulnerability in the face of the massive structure it needs for survival.
Raphaele Shirley’s work creates a space for the artist and viewer that is a refuge, an imaginary artificial landscape that appears to extend infinitely, created from the styrofoam blocks that are the refuse of our lives as consumers. Through the creation of an imaginary world and its accompanying highly personal soundtrack, she asserts her claim to place in a way that is both physical and psychological.