Four large televisions are displayed on the wall before you, each split into smaller sections of video shown much like surveillance cameras in a security station. Eerie music plays over the speakers positioned on the floor as strange scenes play out before you, all taking place in and around a lavish home.
You’re in the Room Gallery at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, watching a piece by Lauren Merage entitled “Afternoon Closure.” The videos play for 15 minutes at a time, making the experience just short enough to keep your attention all the way through. What makes the piece so interesting is how viewers are forced to keep their attentions focused on many of the different camera views, each displaying a different area of the house. As for the events that unfold, the people in the video seem to die for no reason, which makes the piece even more mysterious and intriguing to watch.
This is only one piece of the entire “Ne Me Quitte Pas” exhibition, which, when translated from French, means “do not leave me.” Also displayed in the Room Gallery is what looks like a tent one would find in an “Indiana Jones” movie, designed for desert or jungle expeditions. Within this tent, the walls are decorated with different art pieces and messages that reflect artist Scott Klinger’s mind. Either way, it’s one of the most interesting pieces in the exhibition.
The Room Gallery is just one portion of the entire exhibit, with the University Art Gallery holding a bulk of the pieces produced by the MFA students of studio art at the School of the Arts. Upon walking into the gallery, the first thing displayed is a piece entitled “1, 1/2, 2” by Paul Pescador which consists of a potted cactus juxtaposed next to three books available for the public’s viewing pleasure. Within the books, there are pages filled with either written text or simple pictures. All the pictures in the first two books present images of desolation and loneliness and have a focus on seemingly random objects in our environment that we may overlook in our daily lives. The third book contains images of objects in couples; however, some of these images are still fairly desolate and depressing, yet manage to keep its artistic integrity nonetheless.
The next piece that caught my attention was Flora Kao’s “Blanket,” which resembles a large square of sod suspended by strings from the ceiling. Also hanging from the ceiling is the massive “Gross Over Site” by Aaron Valenzuela, which separates the room into a front and back area. The piece resembles an extremely large curtain made of what looks like melted cake frosting. It’s a fascinating piece that’s quite the spectacle to behold.
Lining one of the far walls of the exhibit is a collection of abstract pieces all by Paul Aguayo, and all titled “Untitled.” These pieces are clean and, ironically, more traditional than many of the other pieces in the exhibit despite their abstract nature.
One of the more curious and bewildering pieces is the collection of work in the corner of the gallery, all by James Anderson. In the middle of the collection of his work, there is “Permanent Collection” which is a table with bones strewn about on it arranged to resemble the human skeleton. But the bones don’t stop there; another part of the collection is a piece that consists of a cooking pot with charred bones inside of it. A neon sign on the wall reads “THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING,” perhaps commenting on the inevitability of death or how needless death is occurring around the world. The final piece of his, “Event Horizon,” was a simple square of neon lighting placed upon a pedestal.
On the wall opposite of Paul Aguayo’s work is Sarah Beadle’s piece that consists of three different prints. “Base Realignment” shows three different destroyed walls, each slightly different than the one before it. Starting with the left, the wall is destroyed in a vague reverse “L” shape. The print on the right resembles more of an “L” and the print in the middle appears to be a transitional state between the two; hence, the title of the piece.
Beyond the gigantic “Gross Over Site” lies two extremely intriguing pieces. “Shroud” by Flora Kao is an intricate sculpture made of wire with lights being projected onto it. Because of the different angles in which the lights are shining on the piece, the resulting shadows that are cast on the walls are art in itself. It’s easy to get caught up staring at the silhouettes dancing across the walls in random, but graceful, fashion.
The last piece in the gallery is a video by Maya Gurante called “Three Little Thefts,” aptly named because of its three “acts.” The first is of a pregnant, naked woman running and hurdling through rings of fire held by stoic men. The second is of three men in painted bodysuits with large clay penises hanging before them. They are yanked away, off their bodies and into the rafters of the theater house they are in. The last portion of the video is of a man sitting and reading a magazine. Suddenly, another man races into the room holding a chair on his head. The man picks up his own chair, places it on his head and the two men begin to battle each other much like two stags would in the wild. After the man who was reading the magazine wins the bout, he returns to his sitting position and continues to read.
With the great variety the MFA exhibit provides, “Ne Me Quitte Pas” is an intriguing glimpse into the emotions and thoughts of the artists. Each of the pieces has its own personality and unique qualities and is worth checking out.
“Ne Me Quitte Pas” is open at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and closes on Mar. 4. For more information, visit http://www.ucigallery.com.