The LSU Museum of Art’s latest temporary acquisition, “State of the Art: Record,” on loan from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, is a surprisingly interactive exhibit with multiple pieces that actively encourage contact with the viewer. .
“In an Effort to be Held” by Kellie Romany depicts 36 different shades of oil paint, representing the chromatic scale of skin color tiles created for use in determining race until the 1950s, poured into the small ceramic circles and arranged on a table. .
Unlike most art in galleries that viewers have to just look at, they can stack and shuffle these tiny discs, making the handling of each a determining factor in how the next person sees the same piece. .
“Every time you see the room it has changed, which is a metaphor for how we humans change each other,” Romany said.
The museum has placed gloves on the table, presumably to indicate that Romany’s work is meant to be preserved, although she doesn’t entirely agree with the decision.
“It’s a language that we created for each other in the context of the gallery, to tell the viewer that this is something you can touch,” Romany said. “But the glove itself, I will say it’s debatable. I don’t have an answer to that at the moment.”
This exhibit will likely mark the first time many viewers will see a playable video game in an art gallery. Tucked away in a corner of the room, but impossible to miss, is a desk with a comic book cover, a glowing keyboard, and a large computer monitor. This configuration is part of the work “Ineffable Glossolalia” by Tabathi Nikolai.
In the video game, players can explore Nikolai’s three-dimensional world meant to communicate language’s failure to describe transgender experiences. Sometimes breathtaking, sometimes nerve-wracking, play is an experience, and an experience like no other when you consider its existence inside a museum space.
Although very different from Romany’s work, there is a similarity in art as communication or conversation starters on the subject of human bodies, where language often fails to do the job.
Romany made realistic paintings of bodies, including her own, and turned to abstraction for two reasons — the idea that mostly white collectors possess her body after seeing herself in a collector’s house, and also that this creates the space for discourse, an important artistic impact for Romani.
“If there’s no room for it, I don’t care that much,” Romany said during his artist visit to LSU during the day after his commencement reception in early March. . “This [conversation] for me, this is how the work becomes a success.”
Paul Stephen Benjamin’s “Daily Meditations” video installation features three different videos, two of which are live performances of “Strange Fruit”, broadcast on a mountain of televisions. The eerie song follows you around the museum, just as the bright blue video of the swinging child is etched in your mind.
Another artwork requiring multiple senses is Cory Imig’s site-specific “Liner Spaces (Purple)”. The hanging pieces of ribbon that people can walk through invite the viewer to consider space and how they pass through it.
Also including numerous visual arts, such as comic-infused mixed media acrylic painting, “State of the Art: Record” is an experience for both the eyes and the body.