Beginning in September, 2013, our yearlong theme at Proteus Gowanus is Water. Once a sacred substance, water is often taken for granted now. We in the developed world were told that engineers had mastered its flow to meet our every need, from drinking water and irrigation to water parks and fish tanks. We lost our respect for this strange elixir that has shaped our world and dictates how and where we live. Now, it seems we are paying for our disregard. Last fall, Hurricane Sandy punished Brooklyn and the East Coast. Across the globe, we hear almost daily of drought, deluge and flood. A sense of foreboding permeates the atmosphere.
Our guiding spirit, Proteus, Greek sea god of change, encourages us to dive in and explore these murky waters to see what answers we can find over the next nine months. Join us!
Reanimation Library/Gowanus Branch
January 4 – March 16th, 2014
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 11th
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
For the second exhibition of our WATER year, Proteus Gowanus is pleased to announce a new exhibition by our Project-in-Residence
Reanimation Library :
Reanimation Library | Gowanus Branch will present new work by Jen Bervin, David East, and Marget Long accompanied by a selection of books from the library’s collection. All of the work and books included in the branch will engage with the subject of water—the focus of this year’s investigative theme at Proteus Gowanus. Works in sculpture, photography, video, installation and textiles all grew out of an initial encounter with printed material, often from the library’s own collection.
Jen Bervin will present a section of her large-scale installation River—a 230 ft. panoramic scale model of the Mississippi River rendered in reflective hand-sewn silver sequins. For Gowanus Branch, she will install a segment of the river’s meander belt, famously charted by Harold Norman Fisk in his Geological Investigation of the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley. Installed on the ceiling, the piece shows the river mapped from the geocentric perspective—from inside the earth’s interior looking up at the riverbed. Viewers will be able to see themselves reflected in it as they move through the space.
David East’s site-specific installation, Pastoral Double Plot (Non-Circulating) explores the theme of water by referencing one of its greatest consumers—the American suburban lawn. Driven by the idea of the lawn as a sort of parasitic architecture to the suburban home, the piece itself echoes the lawn/home relationship, growing out of Proteus Gowanus’s own systems of display. He will also present A Walk in the Park (thank you Mr. Lynch), within the library stacks, a looped animation further exploring the lawn inspired by the opening sequence of David Lynch’s film, “Blue Velvet”.
Marget Long will exhibit photographs and video from her current series Mirage Mirage (which, incidentally, grew out of her involvement with the library’s Center City Branch in Philadelphia in 2009.) Daylight at the Oasis consists of three pixelated, black and white photographs of an oasis in the Mojave Desert which are mounted under a dichroic, refractive plexiglass cut into a grid pattern. The specialized plexiglass, marketed by 3M for its ‘mirage like’ properties, causes the oases to change hue, appear, and disappear, depending on the viewing angle. The photographs also reflect the contents of the room in which they are displayed. She will also present Rancho Mirage, a looped video work featuring footage of a mirage interacting with automatic sprinkler systems on a commercial strip of road in the city of Rancho Mirage, CA.
The Reanimation Library will temporarily relocate its water-related books from the stacks in the back of Proteus Gowanus to the main gallery space. Titles will include Ebb and Flow: The Tides of Earth, Air, and Water, The Effect of Water on Rock Powders, Waves and Beaches: The Dynamics of the Ocean Surface, Water Flying, Of Water, Salt and Life: An Atlas of Fluid and Electrolyte Balance in Health and Disease, Abyss: The Deep Sea and the Creatures that Live in It, and The Shocking Truth About Water: The Universal Fluid of Death.
September 15-December 20, 2013
Our first exhibition of the Water year is Containment, exploring our increasingly troubled relationship with water. Containment suggests antithetical meanings: on the one hand, the act of holding and enclosing, as you might a rare treasure; on the other, a defensive act, as in restraining a hostile power. With respect to water, both meanings apply: we cannot live without it and yet we know it has the power to destroy us. Fear and desire circulate through our relationship with water. Bottles, cisterns, reservoirs and baths; sewers, levees, dikes and dams: all seek to contain and control water, the source of all that is liquid. And somehow the more we seek to control, the more out of control it all becomes…
In this exhibition, the containment of water is depicted in systems ranging from underground tunnels that contain once vibrant surface water bodies (Diaz) to bowls and buckets capturing furtively invasive water (Cogswell and Phunsombatlert). We see structures designed to hold floodwater back (Diaz) as well as the rivers that resist containment (Garnett). Goldfinch portrays the liquid exchange that keeps our brains alive. Saucedo portrays everyday containers as pure form while Tannen goes for functionality, containing a river in a simple jug. Damon portrays the biodynamic movement contained within a single drop of water – movement replicated throughout the living world. Gagic records the musical sound of the sea contained in organ pipes and Sturman simply sails away, happily contained. Containment also includes a special installation on our Proteus Shelves.
In the gallery’s big shelves, we present Break/Remake, a Containment installation alluding to the problematic nature of big dams around the world. Big dams now girdle most of the world’s major river basins, creating “staircases of reservoirs” that have inundated vast tracts of land worldwide, causing massive population dislocation, species extinction, ecosystem degradation and even climate change. The world’s rivers are at risk and big dams are a major reason why. They ‘break’ rivers and then ‘remake’ them to serve our needs for drinking water, energy and crop irrigation with little regard for the massive disruptions that result. When you break and remake a form, you alter its function, posing the question: What is gained from such changes and what is lost? Artists were invited by the curator to break and remake a container for this installation.
Containment and Break/Remake were curated by Proteus Gowanus’ Tammy Pittman. Amy Lipton and Tom Miller served as Containment correspondents and Charles Caesar, intern, provided design and general support.
Jaime Ramiro Diaz
Sally Mara Sturman