(Im)materiel at Headlands Center for the Arts and The Marvelous Real at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts
Today from our partner site Art Practical, we bring you Lea Feinstein’s review of two related shows now on view in the Bay Area. She remarks, “While many artists are mounting the barricades, engaging in social protest, the artists in these two exhibitions quietly comment on the ironic nature of human life on earth. Their endeavors memorably evoke worlds we cannot see and, in the process, make strong emotional connections with the viewer.” This article was originally published on February 17, 2015.
Excellent shows with remarkably similar themes, (Im)materiel at Headlands Center for the Arts and Lo Real Maravilloso/The Marvelous Real at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts each feature art that alludes to the duality between the physical and spiritual worlds and points to what cannot be seen. Seen in tandem, they echo and enrich each other, deepening a viewer’s appreciation for the ways art excels at making the invisible visible.
“I have always been struck by the power of that which is not present, that which has disappeared or is absent,” writes Marshall Elliott, one of eighteen artists featured in the Headlands exhibition, curated by Kevin B. Chen. “Whether activating a missing part of a story, resurrecting a forgotten history, or simply suggesting a new way to look at the world through inversion or removal, I probe into murky spaces that don’t have clear visual analogies,” he writes. Elliott’s sculpture Ghost Bike (2013), a riderless bicycle that has been painted white, turns endlessly in a tight circle around a mechanical pivot. In Dust to Dust to Dust (2015), the sculptor has overturned three chairs and drawn their lengthening shadows on the floor with sawdust ground from the furniture’s sides and legs. A visually analogous sculpture appears in the Mission Cultural Center exhibition. Curated by Sanaz Mazinani, the exhibition includes work by husband-and-wife collaborators Jeremiah Barber and Ingrid Rojas Contreras, an artist and writer, respectively. Barber’s Bring to Mind (2014) features an upended wooden chair that has been painted gloss yellow. Balanced on a point, it is rigged with twine to a head formed from the same twine, which unravels on a wall nearby. With anthropomorphically named component parts (arms, legs, backs, and seats), the chair becomes an inevitable stand-in for the human form.