The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) does many things well, but one of my favorites is their Slide Jam series. On Thursday, September 22nd, the CAMH started up the series with Carrie Schneider and Clarissa Tossin.
|Dean Daderko, CAMH Curator|
Carrie Schneider presented first.
|A Self-Compassion - a virtual interaction with her younger selves|
|Stuck - she lets the ocean dissolve a salt sculpture that spells out "stuck|
|Heal Houston Ceremony - an Ike healing process through love letters and music|
These works are very personal, very Carrie-centric. The audience can observe them and draw emotional and aesthetic parallels from their content, but they can't inhabit the work.
The second phase of her work uses the same approach of "inventing personal ritual" with one exception. The focus of "personal" shifts from the artist to the audience. In works such as
|Stage Exchange - reciprocal message exchange based on stages of life|
|Story Trading - the artist and participants exchange stories and then retell to others (think the telephone game)|
|manos mensajitos -messages written on the hands of tango dancers are "exchanged" as the dancers dance in the sultry Houston night|
Clarissa Tossin presented next.
Tossin is originally from Brazil. She came to Houston by way of the Core Program and participated in their 2011 show. Her work centers around her home town Brasilia. For the geographically inept, that means nothing. For the geographically savvy, it translates to Utopia. Actually, she never used that phrase but her presentation on her works on Brasilia made it abundantly clear.
Let me explain. In the 1950s, The Brazilians decided to move the capital from Rio de Janerio to the geographical center of the country. Lúcio Costa served as the principal urban planner and Oscar Niemeyer served as the principal architect. Together they oversaw the construction of the city from 1956 to 1960. Think of a master planned community without a neighboring metropolitan area, whose infrastructure it could leech off of and whose population it could exploit for cheap labor. All of that had to be built or brought in.
|White Marble Everyday|
Another work, Monument to Sacolandia is a performance piece that highlights the workers that built the presidential palace, Palácio da Alvorada. The workers’ camps was constructed out of used cement bags in a valley below the palace. The camp was called, Sacolândia or Bagland. In 1959, the government flooded the valley to make a lake and the worker population was relocated to the outskirts of the planned city. In the video, Tossins raft floats on Paranoá lake over the old camp with the palace's gardens as backdrop.
|Unmapping the world|
Tossin has several other projects that present the human aspects of Brasilia in contrast to its facade of modernist purity. But for Houstonians, we can read this more universally--many of us work in gleaming modernist and post-modernist office towers or campuses. We show up for work to a clean office, with well-manicured landscaping. We rarely have contact (unless the elevator breaks) with the small army of workers needed to keep these places functioning. Ditto our curvilinear ferro-concrete freeways--do you ever notice the city employees whose job it is to clean dead animals off the freeways? In this way, Brasilia is Houston, is Los Angeles (which obliterated the Hispanic neighborhood of Chavez Ravine to build Dodgers Stadium in 1959), is many other cities. There is a particularity and a universality in Tossin's work.
(All photos of art work are from the respective artist's website.)