Holly Hunt and Panic Bomber Stirred Up the South Florida Cultural Consortium Exhibition at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale
"Who Am I to You?" It's a very generous question for an artist to ask an audience. Not enough artists present this self-reflective inquiry. The ultimate value of art is not monetary, but what it offers in terms of in its experiential value.
Organized by the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale and curated by Freddy Jouwayed, South Florida can be proud of the 14 artists who were awarded a South Florida Cultural Consortium Visual and Media Artists Fellowship. Their resulting work is now in a truly memorable exhibition that runs through September 1.
The musical elements were displayed with the A S T R [ E L ] V E R A N D A installation at the close of the evening, a 3PQ collaboration, which includes artists Freddy Jouwayed, Sinisa Kukec, and Stephan Tugrul. They brought up Miami's finest music-makers, metal duo Holly Hunt and electronic dance master Panic Bomber, to perform as part of the art.
A rather indulgent but breathtaking piece marked the entrance to the exhibit. Leah Brown's 17-foot tall mixed-media sculpture "Weird Sisters" looked like a dream made manifest. Three pale-faced, curvaceous women lay slumbering with soft faces in fetal positions under thin white sheets. It triangulates into a tower of soaring, heaven-bound hair and bed sheets. At the top, a trio of half-human, half-bestial creatures burst from the fabric and lock arms in a dance. The curvaceous nude female forms were topped alternately with the heads of a deer, bear and a mountain lion, eyes wide and alive, representing that irrepressible primitive thing that exists in all of humanity.
"Weird Sisters" stands more as a statement than a subjective, interpretive piece, but it clearly was a highlight of the night for many. It is audacious and surreal with an undeniable presence.
Standing in rather unnoticeable juxtaposition behind the sculpture was a wall painted in blackboard paint. Wooden trays for holding chalk, also in blackboard paint, ran the length of the wall. Several pieces of white, somewhat porous chalk lay in random spots. Titled "Equator," using the medium of "map dust," artist Agustina Woodgate explained she had made the chalk from dust she had created from hand-sanding a pull-down map that once hung in a classroom. As impressive as her solo exhibit "New Landscapes" was at last year's Art Basel, here was another step in the work I had once thought of as a rather final end point.
Woodgate created "New Landscapes" over the course of several months, with hours upon hours of hand sanding. She obliterated maps in a giant Atlas and off of a globe. This resulted in piles of colorful dust and the bare skeletal remains of the original objects. I interpreted it as a metaphor for our true fate. No matter the books, the history, the maps, it all turns to dust in the end.
With "Equator," the artist pushed an already brilliant project to a new height. I felt the compulsion to use the chalk on the board and draw a map of Florida. Woodgate only wryly smiled and shrugged. I placed the chalk to the board and drew a line and a security guard ran up. "Don't do that!" I replied, "But the artist..." motioning to Woodgate with the chalk who nodded in approval, and I carried on. My meek little Florida map returned from map dust with a Lake Okeechobee dot and little dashes trailing at the bottom representing the Keys. Turning around, two other patrons were already busily marking up the wall with their own work. Though, indeed, the board may be wiped clean, the introduction of regeneration into her prior creations added another dimension to Woodgate's delightful body of work.
These were already some grand highlights for the exhibit, but there was so much more in the rooms that lay ahead.