ArtPrize 2015: UICA

Though I feel a little disappointed that I live downtown this year and didn’t spend much time devoted to exploring ArtPrize 2015, I have been keeping myself busy with aggressively attacking my own personal debt, so I can’t feel too bad. I was given a little bit of a boon on Sunday, the last day of ArtPrize, when I had a chance to check out the exhibits at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA).

There were two pieces there of note, both visible from the outside of the UICA, so they don’t even have to be open for you to enjoy these pieces.

Michael Peoples, "The Great Race"

Michael Peoples, “The Great Race”

While Michael Peoples’ “The Great Race” is not specifically aimed toward social justice, there is quite a bit that can be gleaned from this piece. These ducks, as they travel forward down the stream, meander down a wall, across a horizontal slab, and finally up and across the walls of a stairwell, forcing the viewer to make drastic changes in position and view while viewing this piece. This is an installation that is not easily captured and shared via two-dimensional photography. I do not want to put words into Peoples’ mouth, but how perfectly does this description fit the sociopolitical climate in which matters of justice are discussed. That said, my main pull to “The Great Race” was how inspired it made my wife, who is a sculptor herself. The saying “Happy wife, happy life,” though great in its use of rhyme is archaic in the engendering of its sentiment, but when you’re married to a heavily creative woman like I am any inspiration such as this pays dividends for months.

Charles Jevremovic, "Technician 3"

Charles Jevremovic, “Technician 3”

“Technician 3” by Charles Jevremovic was at once the most interesting and most ironic piece at the UICA. For me, this piece is difficult to describe. It involves waves of machinery facing the public with the occasional projection of a scientist or technician on its surface. There is a sense of Cold War anti-Soviet war games zeitgeist here accompanied by a true love for science, technology, and all things geek. The irony sinks in when you compare the presentation with the artist’s statement of purpose.

Amy is a hands on individual. While looking through the Fountain Street Church exhibits, she was scolded for touching a very impressive piece composed of handmade paper scrolls. Fast forward to our experience at the UICA, and you find a woman surrounded by knobs and buttons but separated by a cord that says “DO NOT TOUCH.” In a small theater, the UICA projected an interview with Jevremovic in which he described his work as something that you are invited and welcome to touch, suggesting that the tactile interaction is perhaps the most important purpose of “Technician 3.”

The question now is whether the imperative to keep your hands off of the installation undermined the artist’s intention for the piece, or whether the contradiction presented actually heightened the value of the art beyond what Jevremovic had intended.

Neither of these pieces are particularly easy to represent through photography or describe in words. They ought to be experienced. While I am still at a loss to further assist those who will not get a chance to view “The Great Race” in person, I was lucky to find that Jevremovic had included a short video of his piece which I have posted below.

If the UICA releases their artist statement video from Charles Jevermovic for online consumption, I’ll be sure to post that later so you can get a sense of the comedy that comes from making an interactive piece that cannot be touched.

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