Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Michael Snow

If the phrase experimental film is befitting of anyone, I can thoughtfully apply it to artist Michael Snow. Snow is the Canadian artist working in film and sculpture. We were privileged to see an exhibition of Snow's films and some really moody light sculptures in Fondazione Centro Studi sull'Arte Licia e Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti.

We entered the gallery space by first passing through a cloister girded by healthy bushes of herbs (I'll admit I snapped a few twigs of sage and rosemary). The Foundazione is housed in a former monastery and features multilevel spaces that nicely accommodated intimate viewings of Snow's work. I couldn't help but admire the grace with which the exhibition was installed. The entire gallery space was darkened with illumination coming from the films but also from tall standing blue lights. The lights added a sculptural quality to the space, eased passage between films, and most importantly did not interfere with viewing the pieces.

Snow's work spans a range of technique and subjects with each piece presenting its own visual language. The piece Sheep Loop was a quiet moment, just a gradual loop of sheep grazing in a field ocean side. More challenging was Snow's piece Triage (2004) created with artist Carl Brown. Each artist contributed a cycle of frames, exquisite corpse fashion, oblivious to the others content or intentions. Snow's side was entitled "King Phillip Came Over From Germany Singing," (it's a mnemonic for the scientific classification system of Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species). Befitting his frames which were organized into series of animals, fish, plants, birds etc. Brown's imagery was more textural and drew from mechanical sources. These two sets of frames were quickly rifled through side by side, overwhelming the viewer. This information was bewildering on its own but was accompanied by unsettling audio that stirred anxiety in the viewer. The sounds involved people screaming as if in great tragedy. Immediately the mind flits to 9/11 though I've read nothing to indicate that was the goal. By the end of the 30 minute cycle I had a blistering headache but it was completely worth it.

Blog editor interacting with a piece at the exhibition

Fondazione Centro Studi sull'Arte Licia e Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti
Via San Micheletto 3 I – 55100 Lucca

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