In honor of this weekend’s True/False film festival I thought I would post a bit about the video installation that is up in the gallery.  The installation is up through the end of March 2010, so even if you are not in town this weekend, you can come by and check it out.  This is the sort of thing that I love to be able to do but don’t often allow myself the opportunity as the work can not be sold.  In all honesty we have to sell art to keep the gallery open.  In spite of this, every year to help kick off the True/False film festival I open up the alcove to a video installation.  This year PS:Gallery is proud to host Cherie Sampson.  The installation is titled Signed with Reddish Earth. Here is the statement from the piece.  The show officially opens tomorrow Friday, February 25, 2010 and will run until March 27th.  I hope you enjoy the show.


Signed with Reddish Earth

Cherie Sampson

Last November, I traveled to Cuba to participate in the 2nd International Festival of Video Art, Camagüey as a guest artist. My proposal for a project to be produced for the festival was two-fold: to do a video shoot inside of a cave 40 km outside of the city of Camagüey and to use that footage to incorporate into a performance with video projections for the festival audience in an unusual constructed grotto in the Casino Campestre Park in the center of the city.

The Maria Teresa cave, where the video was shot, is one of approximately 20,000 caves on the island of Cuba.  It is a small cave, but unique as its modest pictographs were discovered in the 19th century before the famous paintings in the caves at Altamira and Lascaux were found in Europe.  A number of the caves in this region of Cuba have such pictographs, most often associated with the indigenous people of the island, though there are some disagreements among researchers about the original dates of the paintings.  Some claim they are several thousand years old, while others think they may be more recent – at least post-colonial, as some of the images appear to depict encounters with Europeans. The Cubans themselves recognize more accurate investigation of the cave complexes on the island is needed.

I had only one day to work within the cave and by the time I realized I must work completely alone (sending all, including park officials, away) I had very little natural light left in the cave that has small openings to the sky.  The figure (myself) emerges from the miniature cave at the base of the tall pillar across the dark chamber from where a few pictographs mark the rock walls. It represents a primal beginning from the rock-earth womb into an upright state. The dream-like layering of imagery of the interior of the cave (and from within looking out through openings and fissures) portrays a journey through its intimate spaces as mottled reflections alight on rocky surfaces and edges guided by the vision of abstracted light, form and movement.

Over a decade ago, in the arctic regions of Finland, I initiated the making of video-performance works in which I inserted my body into boreal landscapes of moss, peat, tundra, forest and ice and snow. The performances for the camera are a series of personal rituals as much as they are works of art informed by classicism, the nude and abstraction, Minimalism, feminism and contemporary video/performance practices. Working within an intensely slow movement vocabulary in real time, my human form becomes an extension of the architecture of nature and an embodiment of its temporal realities and cyclical change – most often not perceptible at the moment in its infinitely gradual process, but as an after-image.

While evocative of the movement style of Japanese Butoh dance and other forms of experimental movement, I have focused on no single technique for my performance work – it emerges as a sensory, bodily and spiritual response to the immediate environment. While a form of self-portraiture, the videos do not portray the self as personality as such, but an archetypal self that is at once an integral part of nature and distinguishable from it in our finite human journey.

I am grateful to the following for their help and assistance with this project:

– Diana Rosa Perez & Jorge Luis Santana and all of the organizers of the 2nd International Festival of Video Art, Camagüey, Cuba

– UNEAC – (Association of Cuban Artists & Writers)

– Camagüey Paleontology Society

– University of Missouri Center for Arts & Humanities

– Dan Kelly & Taren Lewis

– Maureen Kelly, The Design Loft, St. Louis

– Leo Jurado

– Jennifer Perlow and the staff of PS:Gallery

– Pape Architects


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