Campus News

Water/In Motion, Outdoor Moving Images, On View April 1

Story posted March 18, 2005

Water/In Motion, a moving image exhibition that will be projected on the outside wall of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, will go on view April 1.

Featured works are by contemporary artists Leighton Pierce, Janine Antoni, and Janaina Tschape, all of whom explore the representation of water - a traditional artistic subject matter - but do so in various unexpected ways.

Each work will be projected for one week on the north exterior wall of the Walker Art Building (Visual Arts Center side) from 8-11 o'clock at night:

April 1-7 Leighton Pierce, The Edge of Air, 2004-2005
April 8-14 Janine Antoni, Touch, 2002
April 15-22 Janaina Tschape, Untitled (Scream), 2004

Water/In Motion is the first "exhibition" organized by the Bowdoin College Museum of Art that features exclusively the moving image.

The Moving Image: A (relatively) New Art Form for Museums
Artists variously trained in painting, sculpture, photography, video and performance are increasingly making "films" for viewing in art museums (as opposed to movie theaters). In turn, art museums have responded enthusiastically, many of them now acquiring these works for their permanent collections. (DVDs are produced in editions much like photographs.) Museum visitors are, therefore, more likely now than they were even a few years ago, to encounter projected images on view in museums.

Whether artists are completely committing their primary energies to making art on DVDs or are doing so only when it will further enhance their ideas, works on DVD now play a pivotal role in contemporary art.

The equipment used to make moving images has never before been more affordable or user-friendly and the range of artists' technical agility with the medium runs the gamut. DVDs include works shot and edited solely in camera (a technique mastered by Bowdoin's own sculpture professor John Bisbee) to works that require the employment of large casts and film crews. Likewise, the length of the works (in time) can range from a couple of minutes to more than an hour.

Water/In Motion consists of three short projections each of which will be shown on a "loop," whereby a film repeats over and over again without interruption. Therefore, the way a viewer experiences these works is actually quite similar to the way one might look at paintings or sculptures in a museum: put simply, viewers can engage with the work as long as they wish and then move on.

Museum staff hopes that viewers will enjoy the surprise and opportunity to come upon a work of art outside the Museum of Art while taking an early evening walk or heading home late at night.

The Theme
Water is the substance and subject that links together the works in this series of projections. Water has, of course, attracted the attention of artists for centuries. Up until the 17th-century water was considered a primal force to be more feared than revered. Leonardo Da Vinci, for example, filled books with observations and sketches about the nature of water and conjured numerous inventions to control it. Not until the Romantic Movement did the sea, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls become a source of wonder and inspiration, a place to which one traveled to seek solitude or reflect on life.

Because it is so difficult to render water, artists who paint and draw the sea often do so to flex their technical muscles and display bravura mastery of a medium, often directed to manifesting grand concepts such as the Sublime. (J.M.W. Turner and Winslow Homer come to mind.) Others such as Albert Pinkham Ryder and Marsden Hartley have painted expressionistic oceans to metaphorically represent the journey of life and its all-encompassing elations and struggles. Representations of rivers and streams, oceans and bays have taken on many meanings as each generation defines its own relation to nature.

Pierce, Antoni, and Tschape each offers very different interpretations around the theme of water.

Using water as a kind of spatial metaphor, Pierce's The Edge of Air suggests the experience of traversing through a number of psychological states.

In Touch, Antoni finds that at the seashore reconciliation, in the large sense of the word, may be possible. She employs her typical humor and daring acts to physically and metaphorically bring together the water and the sky, i.e. the horizon line, a dividing line around which artists have traditionally organized their compositions.

In Untitled (Scream), Tschape, depicting the mermaid, an ancient and universal image associated with the sea, offers a new, feisty interpretation of this mythical creature.

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