|ISSUE 26||News & opinion | November 2001 | updated 2/3/03|
|WITHOUT SANCTUARY||COURAGE||VISUAL SOUND|
Last Friday five students & I drove to Pittsburgh for a terrific workshop sponsored by the AIGA chapter there. Called Experience Design : Design Experience, it was just about everything you could hope for: fun, interesting, enjoyable, and a good learning experience.
Among the highlights: the renovated buildings where events took place (The Icehouse and the Terminal Building); Friday night's performance by Squonk Opera; and Saturday's participatory free-for-all with game designers, web designers, sonic architects, researchers, and students.
One of our favorites was Ze Frank, whose website is our Pick of the Month. Ze is not only tremendously creative and talented, but gracious and approachable making him an inspiration for students.
Thanks to the Pittsburgh AIGA for presenting such a well-planned and organized event. This alone would have made the trip worthwhile. But a more profound experience followed...
Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America is nearly too horrible to look at. As I walked around the gallery looking at photographs of bodies most of them African American hanging from trees, sometimes burning on piles of wood, I could barely comprehend what was before my eyes. I felt horror there is no other word for it from seeing twisted and mutilated bodies, often in twos and threes, dangling from ropes. I still can hardly believe the images that show crowds gathered around to view the lynchings, crowds of white people that appear to be in good humor, dressed for a social event, occasionally including young boys and girls.
TRYING TO UNDERSTAND
The museum tries to help us understand by displaying articles from newspapers of the period, some quite matter of fact, others expressing outrage at the lynch mobs. Next to the gallery is a study room where visitors can research the history of the events.
Different ways of interacting with this history are found in another small gallery. You can sit down in a booth and videotape three minutes of your comments. The resulting videos are shown on a nearby monitor faced by two chairs. I sat down to watch and saw a middle-aged African American man describing how the exhibit stirred his memories of nearly being lynched by a mob in Little Rock, Arkansas, when he was 11 because he had hit a white girl with a paddle. The photos in the gallery didn't seem quite so remote.
Only when it ends do you remember to breathe.
Without Sanctuary runs until December 31, 2001. Please see it.
Despite this, the museum chose to fulfill its mission to be:
It succeeds admirably.
Looking at sound
Not so with the current Visual Sound installations at The Mattress Factory. Four floors are filled with large-scale installations that you both see and hear. My favorites: the colorful and threatening Beautiful Violence by Qin Yufen; the industrial elegance of Scanner by Hans Peter Kuhn; and the grotto-like Wall Blue / Wall Red by Christina Kubisch.
See and hear samples from Visual
Sound at the Mattress Factory's excellent
website. The show runs
through December 30, 2001
-Al Wasco, November 12, 2001
Notes & student reactions to the Pittsburgh
At Ze Frank's website you can learn how to
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Best known for his Pop Art images, Andy Warhol also created prints showing
Without Sanctuary is not at all out of place in the Warhol Museum.
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