Author: Brandon Goins
I’ve found proximity to the North Carolina Museum of Art to be a perk of my relocation to Raleigh-Durham. There is always something new to see or a new perspective from which to view pieces from the permanent collection. I leaped on the opportunity to develop a blog post on the latest exhibition.
The NCMA’s current hot exhibition, You Are Here truly earns its tagline, “light, color, and sound experiences.” Unlike anything I’ve seen before, the exhibition demands viewers to immerse themselves and become a part of many pieces. The installations in this exhibition do not allow passive observance; they demand the viewer to become more, to become a participant.
Mickalene Thomas’ installation, Do I Look Like a Lady? takes the viewer into a 70s inspired living room. Sitting upon quilt upholstered chairs and ottomans, guests watch a projected video that is a tribute to black female icons of comedy, music, and performance. This piece highlights the contributions to culture for which black women are often overlooked.
In the exhibition, themes of optimism are coupled with challenges to our understanding of the world. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Bifurcation projects a digitally constructed image of a tree onto the wall as a branch is suspended in front of it. Lozano-Hemmer challenges the participant to identify the ways they engage with nature in a digital infused age and asks the question, “what is nature’s place in our world as it becomes more digital?”
Ragnar Kjartansson’s The End-Rocky Mountains explores similar ideas. Kjartansson, and an associate dress as Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett to record themselves playing folk music. Like Bifurcation, this piece questions our relationship to nature and asks us to wonder what a real experience of nature is.
Possibly the largest draw for attendees is the new permanent installation by popular Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Light of Life. Kusama is well known for her style of invoking a sense of infinity using repeating patterns. Light of Life is no exception, Kusama uses mirrors and lights in a hexagonal enclosure to create a kaleidoscopic effect. The motivation behind these pieces is to create a “cosmic image beyond the world we live in.”
I was excited to see Anila Quayyum Agha’s Intersections, as images of this piece have flooded Instagram since the exhibition’s opening. Photos of Intersections do not do the piece justice since standing in the room with it is itself an experience. Agha was moved to create this piece after visiting the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The light in the center of the sculpture bathes the room around it with beautiful patterns and designs. This effectively transforms the space, inspiring a sense of peace and tranquility.
Soo Sunny Park employed chain-link fences to create Photo-Kinetic Grid. Placing plexiglass inside of the chain-links creates an effect which folds refracted and reflected light into a pattern. The light reflecting through the glass projects shapes, colors, and light onto participants who walk through the space.
The museum polls attendees to determine which of a selection of pieces triggers the strongest sense of optimism. Included in the selection were Photo-kinetic Grid, The End- Rocky Mountains, Light of Life, Heather Gordon’s Cinnabar, Sam Falls’ Untitled (Maze), and Bifurcation.
Bifurcation, The End-Rocky Mountains, and Light of Life were the pieces that struck me from this selection, Bifurcation being my personal choice for invoking the strongest feeling of optimism and introspection.
There is still time to visit the limited exhibition, You Are Here will be on display until July 22, 2018. Do not miss out on this experience. Magical art experiences aren’t exclusive to the You Are Here exhibition, however. Repeat visits to the permanent collection yield new perspectives each time and there is always a lecture or tour to guide your learning year-round. NCMA is an amazing resource with a wealth of culture and knowledge waiting to be tapped. It is our privilege to have this source of learning available to us. Visit NCMA this weekend!