Run, Rabbit, Run
School of Visual Arts presents “Run Rabbit Run,” an exhibition of paintings, installations and photographs by alumni from the SVA Summer Residency program. Curated by Keren Moscovitch (MFA 2005 Photography, Video and Related Media) and presented by the Division of Continuing Education, “Run Rabbit Run” will be on view July 19 through August 3 at the Westside Gallery, 133/141 West 21st Street, New York City.
The exhibition uses the idea of psychedelia—an ancient Greek term for “mind-manifesting”—to explore the manifestations of the mind: the weird, the crazy, the beautiful, the deeply private and the inconceivable. The artists in this exhibition present works that bring fantasies to life and memories to present time, delving into the deep crevices of the unconscious.
In her monumental homage to the struggle between our rational and irrational motivations and the beauty that results, Alexandra Leyre Mein explores what happens when the unconscious conflates our human and animal natures. Jessica Montfort’s Subservient Creature series is made from remnants of fetal pigs (byproducts of the pork industry), confronting our use of animals for medical research and questioning what it means to be human in an era so dependent on pigs, even on the molecular level.
Several artists in the exhibition explore dream imagery as a doorway to the unconscious. Nick Fyhrie’s portraits and interiors are Baroque dreamscapes with a modern twist, resulting in an unstable environment that makes sense at only a certain moment of observation. Lorella Paleni’s paintings evoke strange hallucinations, implying pain as well as pleasure: the convergence of the savage with the beautiful. Her rooms and buildings collapse and the figures dissolve into the surrounding space. Lucinda Schreiber’s narratives describe dream symbolism known only to the dreamer, in which a unique logic prevails.
Other artists explore individuals’ struggle with themselves to highlight the ways that our minds dictate our behavior, our expectations and our aspirations. These artists reveal the elements of human nature that create turmoil and angst.
Marianna Olinger’s Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously and site-specific installation Line of Flight explore the desire to reflect on one’s past and look ahead to one’s future. In her work, the mind manifests desires, aspirations, memories and fears, subtly inviting the audience to participate via reflection on their own journey. The on-site performance of Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously will allow audience members to participate in the reminiscing and weaving of memories provoked by listening to a blank record pressed for each year of the artist’s life.
Pierre Jarlan’s Psychedelia’s Box – Isolation Room is a series of photographs shot from the ceiling of isolation rooms in psychiatric hospitals that materialize the state of the mind when divorced from outside stimulation. Their starkness is terrifying while their formal composition seduces us into a sensation that all is in order and we are fully taken care of.
Gil Sperling’s video Can You Do That For Me? uses texts from plays dealing with power structures and gender relations, as well as improvised dialog between the performers in an improvised audition situation—one in which the roles are interchangeable. The situation of the audition creates a power dynamic in which one person´s dreams are in the hands of another, which is an opportunity for power abuse.
Brad Robson’s paintings are inspired by the city streets and laneways of his hometown and beyond, applying instinct and gesture to place the individual within a larger environment. The work simultaneously evokes solitude and connection, alienation and belonging.
The darker side of the psyche, as well as a broader socio-political theater, becomes apparent in works that deal with humanity’s struggles with power and domination.
Alejandro Strus borrows excerpts from military survival manuals to focus on the transition between survivalist culture and everyday life. The imagery in the manuals depicts NATO researchers’ intention of creating more resilient soldiers who are immune to the anxiety and psychological stress of combat, and the resulting drawings emphasize the disconnect between the human reaction to trauma and the expectations placed on soldiers.
Aliza Augustine’s series of photographs Is It Safe? addresses the history of her family as Holocaust survivors. Through found photographs and dollhouse miniatures, she constructs narratives that reference socio-political events while describing her family life and the effect of the Holocaust on their relationships.
Together, the artists in the exhibition mine the many ways that the consciousness manifests desires, dreams, fantasies, aspirations, fears and memories—a multidimensional view of the life of the mind.