In Search Of…
Organized by Dustin Dennis, Amanda Lechner and Christopher Ulivo
This exhibition investigates a particular set of emerging and established contemporary visual artists whose practices are examined together within the contexts of fringe exploration, science fiction, mythology, alternative histories and other forms of creative speculation. We are interested in using the In Search Of... TV program as a model for inquiry to generate cross-disciplinary discussion concerning the topic of fringe exploration.
This exhibition traveled to the following locations:
Clough-Hanson Gallery at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, September 6th - October 12th, 2012
The Art and Design Gallery at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS, November 11th - December 7th, 2012
TSA Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, February 22nd - March 31st, 2013
“In Search Of...” was a 1970’s speculative documentary TV series narrated by Leonard Nimoy famous for it’s expansive subject matter, semi-psychedelic visuals and creepy lo-fi synth score. Yes, the style of the show is very appealing but there is a layer of appeal beyond its dated charm. One week’s programing may cover the lost city of Atlantis, the next show Bigfoot, followed by an alien pyramid architect debate. The possibility of super-natural or extraterrestrial explanations to a theory was approached with excitement and imagination instead of skepticism and doubt. It was the ‘search’ that was important not the proof! This methodology resonates with visual artists for whom the truth lies not necessarily in the depiction of life as it appears but instead as it might or could be.
Is it in unbridled optimism, terrific pessimism or unquenchable curiosity that man-kind searches for the unknown, unseen and unlikely? Are the descriptions and observations of incredible creatures and situations truly in-credible? What are the actual differences between skeptics, scientists and true-believers? Is it at heart an optimistic and creative impulse that leads one to pursue a mystery where there is no rational reason to believe one exists? Ghost hunters, J.F.K. conspiracy theorists, extra terrestrial experts, new age pyramid cultists, Bigfoot & Yeti researchers all fall within this worldview.
Discoveries routinely surface to cast slivers of doubt on established fact and offer opportunities for new speculation. In the past decade evidence has surfaced of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, a bird thought extinct for 65 years still alive in Arkansas. Remains of Flores-man, a species of 3-foot tall hominid were found alongside those of Homo sapiens from 15,000 years ago. Seemingly monthly, evidence of the elements of life are being found present within the planets of our own solar system.
Parallel to speculation and discovery is the world of hoax, the aesthetics of lying. Often seen as reprehensible, the prevaricator, capable of dexterously fashioning a believable counterfeit is a proven craftsman and schemer. Regardless, the fascination of fabricated tales continue to captivate audiences. It is desire, the momentary thrill of the suspension of disbelief that is the connecting bond between the speculator, the witness, the hoaxer and the skeptic.
It is no surprise that certain artists find this subject matter and approach of these seekers inspirational. Depicting the unreal or the incredible in art has a peculiar way of searching for the essence of what it is to be human. Most aspects of narrative and nature have been covered thoroughly in the history of art leaving room only for the intrepid to hunt for the missing links. The artists in this exhibition create images and abstract scenarios that engage transformative moments, look to alternate histories or imagine other realities, creatures and lands. They are not interested in finite possibilities but instead look to the strange, fictional, and unknown to emerge with material that posits new scenarios, alternate conclusions and yet more questions.
This exhibition features works by Mark Shetabi, Ryan Mrozowski, David Humphrey, Amanda Lechner, Mike Peter Smith, Ross Sawyers, Sean McCarthy, Jackie Hoving, Frank Heath, Dustin Dennis, Phil Whitman, Matt Bollinger, Rachel Frank, Brian Zegeer, Carl Baratta, Christopher Ulivo, Erin Harmon, Leah Beeferman, Betsy Odom, Andrew Prayzner, Nathaniel Stern and Scott Kildall / (Tweets in Space)
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