Posts filed under ‘Random Acts of Art’

A funny thing happened on the way to Diablo…

Above: Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect at the ASU Art Museum. Photo by Craig Smith. 

I was taking a quick break, heading up to the third floor to visit the infamous Diablo, when this thought occurred to me. The first floor gallery of Downey’s work is a segue to the second floor gallery of Downey’s work.

Now, bear with me here, I’m definitely not claiming you can’t appreciate one without witnessing the other, but it’s enjoying the individual parts instead of the whole. The move from the first floor gallery to the second floor gallery is like taking a step forward in time. It’s a transition, an evolution really, from Downey’s earlier experiments in performance art to his work as a pioneer video artist.

While the gallery on the first floor contained mostly drawings, sketches, and diagrams, the second floor, containing Video Trans Americas, is a multi-media mash-up of video and drawing. TVs are arranged in pairs across the floor while Downey’s art, again only graphite and pencil on paper, is displayed on the walls. As I walk around the gallery, each set of TVs stares like a pair of tireless eyes, watching you while you watch them.  The monitors flash images, snapshots of Downey’s journey. For several minutes the landscape rolls by, shaky and unstable, sometimes seen from the window of a car, sometimes from the side view mirror. A woman sews, pulling thread and needle through a piece of fabric with painstaking effort. Children play soccer in the street while protesters march across yet another screen, vehemently waving signs and banners.

Regardless of changes in media, the themes remain the same. Far from arbitrary, every detail plays some part in Downey’s grand design. I feel like Downey wants to trick us, the viewers, into letting our existing assumptions about what must be complex (technology) mislead us. Without reflection we focus upon the TVs and miss the finer points of Downey’s saga. I mean, in the presence of several sets of TVs playing different videos, who would think to look at the floor? However, the TVs only make sense once you do. What initially appear to be squiggly, winding lines of tape between televisions proves to be, upon inspection, a map: a map of North, South and Central America, the very region Downey travelled through while filming Video Trans Americas. The movie clips too, taken singly, out of sequence, out of context, seem disjointed and confusing. However these are not individual videos, but segments of a whole. Dispersed over the map sketched on the gallery floor, they are the text and the illustrations to the tale of Downey’s travels.

Think that’s all? Just a deconstructed video exhibition? Where’s the fun, the whimsy otherwise found contrasting the depth of Downey’s work? On the wall, directly to the right of the gallery’s entrance, Downey plays his trump card, and it isn’t even his work.

While filming Video Trans America, Downey and his family spent nine months living with the Yanomami in the Amazon. This bright, vibrant, color-pencil art is theirs. One day, after they had spent a significant of time watching him meditate and draw, Downey gave the Yanomami colored pencils and paper. And they drew, without any prior coaching or instructions. Now, this might just be me, but I honestly can’t think of a greater and more profound contrast. Especially because one of these drawings depicts an airplane flying over two brightly color structures with a rainbow in the background.

Where did the inspiration for that even come from? There is, in my mind, an almost unfathomable distance between a video anthropology discussing invisible energies, political discourse and the Latin American identity on the one hand and the color-pencil drawings of an indigenous Amazonian tribe on the other. But for all its magnitude, this unfathomable distance does not invalidate that both Video Trans Americas and the Yanomami drawings are not only culturally significant, but also art.

Actually, I’m honestly so flabbergasted right now that I’ve run out of words. So, while I’m sorry if I’m disappointing anyone, that’s really all I have for now. I can promise more to come though; I owe that much to Diablo. Due to my preoccupation with the second floor gallery, I never even got around to visiting him. So look out for blog post three, where Diablo will get the spotlight!

Karen Enters, PR Intern

November 22, 2011 at 6:58 pm

“Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project” – Calendar of public events

Check this calendar for an updated list of public events and panels connected to the Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project – Jennifer Nelson, Social Studies 7, including an artist reception at the Museum on Nov. 4. We hope you can join us!

 CALENDAR OF PUBLIC EVENTS

Open gallery sessions with the artist

Saturday, October 8 – noon-1:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 15 – noon-1:30 p.m.
Participants are encouraged to attend for the full 90 minutes.

Public panel on the topic of how people find security,
individually and collectively.

Tuesday, November 1 – noon-1:30 p.m.

Panelists include:

Kim Hedrick, Trauma Survivor

Nick Katkevich, Co-Director of the Phoenix
Nonviolence Truthforce

John Kleinheinz , Captain/Commander of the Maricopa
County Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics
(SWAT) Division

Scout McNamara, Counselor specializing in trauma
resolution, mood disorders, addiction and relationships

Jim Neff, Firearm Instructor, Generations Firearm
Training

Moylan Ryan, Somatic Coach

Field trips

We recommend that you attend more than one field trip to better understand the
full scope of the project.

To sign up, call Lekha Hileman Waitoller at 480-965-0497 or email at Lekha.Waitoller@asu.edu

Thursday, October 13 – 6:30 p.m.

Artificial Limb Specialists, 2916 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85012

Sunday, October 23 – 11 a.m.

GPS Defense Sniper School

Saturday, October 29 – noon-2:00 p.m.

St. Luke’s Behavioral Health, 1800 E. Van Buren
Street, Phoenix, AZ 85006

Enter through the main entrance, signage will direct you to the
Behavioral Health Auditorium

Artist reception

Friday, November 4 – 5:00-7:00 p.m. Closing remarks by Jennifer Nelson at 5:45 p.m.

Gallery events

Friday, October 21 – 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Performance by visiting dance artist Tim O’Donnell

Thursday, November 3, noon-2:00 p.m.

Nick Katkevich of the Phoenix Nonviolence
Truthforce, will provide an introduction to Kingian

Nonviolence focusing on the fundamental strategies and
aspects of nonviolence based on the philosophy and movements led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For more information, updates and further opportunities to engage in the project,
please check the ASU Art Museum blog: asuartmuseum.wordpress.com or contact
Lekha Hileman Waitoller at 480-965-0497.

October 28, 2011 at 5:03 pm 1 comment

This terrible thing has happened, I will never be the same: “Securing a free state” — Jennifer Nelson

When this project was percolating last year, thinking choreographically I
initially approached it with a dumb pun about the right to bear arms. I was
thinking about the way the mind fills the fire-“arm” with its
intention, and the way this intention penetrates social space with its
imperative to stop an attack (I’m taking a good-faith approach that those who
are armed for self-defense do not wish to do harm beyond stopping an attacker).
On the other side, I was thinking about the body’s integrity being violated by
violence, and the psychic and social consequences of that. I imagined a person
missing an arm to violence. I was wondering about phantom sensations in
the missing limb, and about the experiences of someone trying to heal by making
the body whole again through the use of a prosthetic limb. Can mind inhabit the
inanimate? What relationship can a person claim to the now public place where
his or her limb should have been?

But as I thought further, it became clear that the project would go deeper. I
would shift away from “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”
to the heart of the Amendment: “the security of a free state.” What
is a securely free state? What does that mean intimately? How do we carry this
in our bodies? We live with mortal vulnerability, and with the possibility,
however statistically slight, of facing violent conflict. We look for ways to
live with this terror, particularly if we have already been wounded and our
trust has already been broken. The evolving project sets out on this deeper
quest. So when we approached Michael Pack, owner of Artificial Limb
Specialists, about a field trip to his site, I carried both my first intention
and the evolving question.

Michael’s work, as a designer of custom prosthetic devices, is that of a
life-changer. He works with clients, most of whom have suffered a traumatic
injury from war or accident (rather than the #1 cause for limb loss: diabetes)
for months or even years to get the right prosthetic fit. It truly makes the
difference of whether a person can live a full and free life or not. Danny
Lujan, a client of many years who was present on our Thursday night field trip,
said that his psychological recovery from the loss of his lower leg only began
when the limb fit perfectly and he didn’t need to think about it anymore. We
spent the evening learning what it takes to design prosthesis to fit perfectly —
to become an extension of the body — and speaking with Danny about his emotional
relationship with both his lost leg and his prosthetic one. We also got a tour
of the workshop — a sculptor’s delight — for casting and shaping these amazing
devices. Michael’s clients compete in triathlons, scuba dive, rock climb, and
play with grandchildren. Danny was able to move forward literally and figuratively
after his accident. He got a degree, found his wife, and has a rewarding job.
But he says the first several years were really hard. His sense of personal
security changed. He feels more vulnerable. He still feels the lost leg,
sometimes it still hurts. Michael explains that a patient needs to bond with
their prosthetic leg to move forward, and for some people, life events make it
so difficult to take a forward-looking view of  loss: This terrible thing
has happened, I will never the be same.  How will this cause me to grow?

We’ll be examining that question in more detail on the field trip on Saturday,
October 29th to St. Luke’s Behavioral Health. Check it out — there are
participatory events for post-traumatic growth.

This Sunday at 11:00 a.m. we’ll eat pastries at a sniper training range while
discussing letting one’s guard down with sniper training instructor William
Graves. Please contact Lekha Hileman Waitoller if you would like to join us
(480-965-0497; lwaitoll@mainex1.asu.edu)

Jennifer Nelson, Social Studies artist

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All images by Sean Deckert.

October 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm 1 comment

Experiments with robots, machines and conditions: Juan Downey’s Invisible Architect

Last week at work, I had to find and compile images (and the necessary credit lines, of course) for an online slideshow presenting some of the works of Juan Downey. The cool part? Once I was done, I got to go look at the works in person.

In case it wasn’t already obvious, I work at the ASU Art Museum, which is currently exhibiting Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect, the first U.S. museum survey of Chilean artist Juan Downey’s work. There are three whole galleries worth of his work here, one on each floor, but unfortunately I only had time to properly appreciate two.

Now, I might not be someone exactly qualified to comment on art (I’m a marketing and economics major, very boring), but Downey’s work is awesome. The gallery on the first floor contained some of Downey’s more technical pieces, sketches and drafts of his experiments in performance art examining the interactions between man and machine. I was amazed by the depth of the contrast.  Downey documents his inquiries into invisible energies existing in human-machine communication in the crisp, precise detail of an architect’s draft, but done with such simple mediums, color pencil and graphite.

Downey’s projects are complex investigations and experiments with robots, machines, and conditions. Yet, such seemingly intricate, technical undertakings are juxtaposed against the simple, even humble, but loving detail he used to document them. His sketches, as I mentioned, are done on paper with pencil, and while devoid of much color and punctuated with Downey’s scribbles and annotations, still retain a perfect feel and respect for space and position, nothing random, everything with a purpose.

Three pieces by Juan Downey: "Inside the Robot," "Follows People and..." and "...and Breathes Stuffy Air on Them," all 1970, all colored pencil and graphite on paper, all courtesy of Marilys B. Downey.

While interactions between man and machine and invisible energies seem as though they could easily be boring, high-brow and scientific, they’re not. Downey’s innovative sense of whimsy avoids anything detached and pretentious. My personal favorite is Downey’s transcription of Pollution Robot, decomposed into three pieces: Inside the Robot, Follows People And….., And Breathes Stuffy Air On Them.

If the names of the works are amusing, then Downey’s performance of Pollution Robot must have been even more so. In Pollution Robot, Downey hid himself within a robot box, followed people, and breathed stuffy air on them. I loved it, the lack of pretention in the names and the act, that Downey himself was in the robot following people, and the fact that in the robot, Downey’s main purpose was, rather than anything else one could imagine, to follow people and breathe stuffy air on them. It makes the complexity of the themes explored in Downey’s performance accessible and entertaining.

Unfortunately, I am now out of time and space, and I didn’t even get to mention the exhibition in the second gallery featuring some of Downey’s more traditional (but still far from it) art. But hopefully, that’s another story for another day, or another blog post for another day at work.

Karen Enters, PR and Marketing Intern

October 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Contemplating security from very different perspectives – Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project

Thursday, October 13 marks the first field trip for Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project, currently underway at ASU Art Museum. Jennifer Nelson’s Social Studies project, which focuses on security, takes us to two sites that will force us to contemplate security from very different perspectives.

On Thursday, we will visit Artificial Limb Specialists (2916 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85012) at 6:30 p.m. for a tour of the design facilities where custom prosthetics are made.

An individual who lost a limb  and uses a prosthetic will speak with us about how he inhabits his limb, what the prosthetic means for him emotionally, and his feelings of security or vulnerability with the limb.

On Sunday, October 23 at 11 a.m. we will visit a sniper training school that provides realistic training opportunities for individuals in law enforcement, military as well as civilians. We will observe a group of students as they go through their final exercises in sniper training and will discuss the topic of security from the perspective of someone who is prepared to encounter and deflect threats. The address for this field trip will be provided only to those who sign up to attend the tour. Car pools to the facility can be arranged.

Space for both fieldtrips is limited—for questions, or to sign up for either, please contact the project’s curator, Lekha Hileman Waitoller at lwaitoll@mainex1.asu.eduor 480-965-0497. Attendance to both field trips is suggested in order to more
fully understand the dialogue unfolding in Securing a free state.

–Lekha Hileman Waitoller, Interim Curator

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos by Jennifer Nelson.

October 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Opportunities to participate — Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project – Jennifer Nelson, Social Studies 7

Photograph courtesy of Sean Deckert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Nelson’s Social Studies residency at the ASU Art Museum has been going for about two weeks and we’ve already been to two shooting ranges, a sniper training school and a prosthetics design facility. As if this weren’t enough firsts for me, I also, in a trust-building exercise, allowed a SWAT team commander to lead me around a gallery with my eyes closed (although I cheated when I noted that I was being led into a dark corner). This project is shaping up to be a huge learning experience with nary a dull moment, and we have barely begun.

Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project is the second in a nonconsecutive series of projects by Jennifer Nelson on the Bill of Rights. While the Second Amendment is commonly thought about only as “the right to bear arms,” Jennifer selected another clause as her starting point for the project: “the security of a free state.”

Throughout the residency, group conversations, field trips and a public panel will engender a dialogue about security—how individuals find it and how we, collectively, think of it. Contemplating private and public security gives rise to a host of complexities, which and can at times seem incompatible. This dynamic negotiation of rights between the public and the private is what this project considers; in fact, it is what Jennifer’s body of work usually considers. (Read about her collaborative project Limerick Cookbook for an example.)

Jennifer, her husband and collaborator, Dimitri, and I have been laying the ground work for this project, which has taken us to the sites mentioned above. This past Saturday and then again next Saturday (October 8 and 15) are the first public opportunities for community members to come to the Museum and take part in the project. From noon-1:30 next Saturday, as we did this past Saturday, we will think about security through activities and conversations that are facilitated by two martial artists, an NRA certified firearms instructor and a trauma therapist.

Check out the full calendar of events below, which will continue to grow as the project develops. (We’ll be updating this blog with new opportunities and events as they arise.)

Lekha Hileman Waitoller, Interim Curator

CALENDAR OF EVENTS:

SATURDAYS IN THE GALLERY: On Saturday, October 8 and 15, members of the public have the opportunity to work with Jennifer from noon-1:30 p.m. These times provide a chance to explore martial practices and therapeutic exercises as we examine strategies for achieving personal security, and ponder what that means in a collective context. Visitors will work in a small group with a martial artist, a shooter and a trauma therapist specializing in somatic treatments to develop choreographies of self-defense and recovery.

Please wear loose-fitting clothes and athletic shoes, and because the gallery is chilly, some may want to bring an extra layer. Please arrive on time and plan to stay for 90 minutes.

PANEL DISCUSSION:
On Saturday, October 22 at 1:00 p.m. we will have a public panel with rotating moderators in the gallery for a discussion of the question: How do people find security? Come prepared to participate in what promises to be a lively discussion.

FIELD TRIPS:

A series of field trips will consider the link between the mind and its extension beyond the body. These include a visit to a prosthetics maker and fitter, which will be thought of as sites where sculpture is made and where one is driven by the need to feel physically whole after a violent interruption of their bodily integrity. The other is a trip to a sniper training facility, which will be considered a performative space where defensive security is practiced.

To sign up for the field trips, please contact Lekha Waitoller at 480-965-0497 or lwaitoll@mainex1.asu.edu

  • Thursday, October 13, 6:30 p.m.: a visit to Artificial Limb Specialists in Phoenix, where we will tour the prosthetics design facility and speak with an amputee who will share his experience about the physical transformation he has been through.
  • Sunday, October 23, 11:00 a.m.: a tour of GPS Defense Sniper School to understand the physical and psychological training for snipers.

This exhibition is supported by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The project was initiated by John D. Spiak and is curated by Lekha Hileman Waitoller.

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October 10, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Meet Diablo

Diablo the anaconda has finally arrived.

He wasn’t thrilled about being moved, and released an indescribable smell to express his displeasure, but he is now safely installed in his enclosure on the third floor, as part of an installation by Juan Downey titled “Anaconda Map of Chile.” It’s an important piece, and it’s never been shown in the U.S. the way the artist intended; because of Downey’s point about the Anaconda Copper Mining Company’s role in the downfall of Salvador Allende and the installation of dictator Augusto Pinochet, the piece was censored more than once.

Diablo, front and center. Photo by Anne Sullivan.

Diablo is a 6-foot Eunectes notaeus (Yellow Anaconda), on loan to the Museum from the Phoenix Herpetological Society, a non-profit reptile education and conservation group. He was rescued by his current owner, Russ Johnson, who is president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society, when he was just about year old. Diablo’s enclosure is heated, and is one-and-a-half times larger than his cage at the Society, giving him more room to stretch out, although he likes to spend most of his time coiled up. During his stay at the Museum, two staff members of the PHS will come regularly to care for him.

Native to tropical South America, anacondas are members of the boa constrictor family and are the largest of the snakes of the Americas. Yellow Anacondas live about 15 to 20 years and grow to be 8 to 12 feet long. Diablo is a young snake, probably 8 or 9 years old, and his diet consists of rats. In the wild, anacondas eat fish, alligators, birds, small deer and large rodents. The anaconda can unhinge its lower jaw, allowing it to swallow animals whole after squeezing them to death with its powerful body.

At the time of his rescue, Diablo belonged to a young man who had purchased him from a local pet store but didn’t know anything about anacondas. Diablo had grown very sick, so someone contacted Russ, who nursed Diablo back to health. It took almost two years. “It was a labor of love,” Russ says.

Now Diablo’s skin is the right color and is iridescent, as it should be. Russ notes that under normal circumstances, people should not own anacondas, but because Diablo was born in captivity, it is against international regulations to release him back into the wild. So Russ will always take care of him.

The museum is grateful to Russ and to the Phoenix Herpetological Society for helping us make sure that Diablo is well cared for during his stay at the ASU Art Museum.

Tonight at 6 p.m., Marilys Belt de Downey, director of the Juan Downey Foundation, will speak with Curator Valerie Smith about her late husband’s work, including “Anaconda Map of Chile,” followed by our Season Opening Reception from 7 to 9 p.m. We hope you’ll come visit Diablo during the course of the season, to see the significant role he plays in the Juan Downey retrospective here at the Museum. If you do, we ask only that you please refrain from touching or tapping on his enclosure. He won’t enjoy that. As a preschool teacher we know tells her students, “Touch with your eyes.”

September 30, 2011 at 10:55 pm 1 comment

The Americas Gallery gets a facelift — and the Museum gets an Interim Curator!

Lekha Hileman Waitoller, who wrote the post below about our newly revamped Americas Gallery, has been the Curatorial Assistant here at the ASU Art  Museum since 2008. Today we’re happy to announce that Lekha has agreed to serve as Interim Curator at the Museum until the end of 2011. Lekha received her Masters in Art History and Theory from ASU this spring, with a thesis titled “Destabilizing the Archive: Steven Yazzie, Lorna Simpson and the Counter-Archive.” She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism (with an emphasis on Photography) and one in Spanish from the University of Missouri.

Do come see the Americas Gallery, and, if you get here before August 27, you can also see Self-Referential: Art Looking at Art, an exhibition of works from the permanent collection that Lekha curated.


One of the great things about living in the desert in summer is that things slow down. Most of us find ourselves pulled in fewer directions and better able to hunker down and chip away at our long to-do lists.

For some time now the curatorial staff at the ASU Art Museum has been talking about how to make changes to the Americas Gallery—the gallery dedicated to works from the collection, including historic gems like our Georgia O’Keefe, David Alfaro Siquieros and Edward Hopper, (include hyperlinks that I have provided) that would otherwise be less available to our visitors, since our focus is on contemporary art.

Years ago, much thought went into how to show these favorites. The resulting installation was an active salon-style installation of portraits called FACES, a chronology of WORK in the Americas and a selection of paintings that describe PLACE/SPACE.

This summer we gave the gallery a facelift—a major one. Keeping with the original themes, we re-thought the Faces comparison through figurative sculpture—historic and contemporary—highlighting the ways artists have selected particular media and styles to convey meaning. The installation is purposefully spare, inviting the viewer to make comparisons between the dissimilar works.

Alison Saar’s Hi Yella (1991), left, stands in contrast to Hiram Powers’ George Washington (1849). Photo by Daniel Swadener.

Another major change is in the PLACE/SPACE installation, which loosely traces artistic styles describing both public and domestic spaces from the early 19th century through today. The earliest paintings look at landscape as a defining component of the United States’ national identity, while the most contemporary selections transition from Surrealist depictions to landscape demonstrating the collision of the personal and political.

Activating the gallery is a sculptural installation by the adventurous conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim. The Last Dance plays on both PLACE/SPACE and figurative sculpture, as the work presents two figures suspended from the ceiling, comprised of nopal cacti. And play it does—animated by a fan motor, the figures “dance” to the tune of “Skokiaan.”

Dennis Oppenheim’s The Last Dance, 1994. Photo by Stu Mitnick.

We hope that you will enjoy what we’ve done with the Americas Gallery and that the powerful works on view will provoke questions and dialogue. Please let us know what you think!

Lekha Hileman Waitoller

Curatorial Assistant

August 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm 1 comment

Meeting Meredith

Meredith working on the upcoming photography show.

We first met Meredith Bonnett in the Introduction to Museum Education class taught in the Museum, around our exhibitions and programs, by me and Curator of Education Andrea Feller. Meredith returned the next semester as curatorial intern working with me on the curatorial concept for an exhibition of contemporary photographs where performance is a part of the creative process. The international artists use elaborate costumes, large groups of people, theatrical sets or cinematic techniques to tell enigmatic stories in a still image. Most of the works are drawn from the extensive photography collection of Stéphane Janssen, and Meredith, a double major in Art History and Museum Studies, has done the bulk of the organizational work behind the exhibition.

That hasn’t been her only project. She extended her internship into the summer and has helped research and plan our patron trip to London this fall. We have pored over maps and sent off scads of emails as we work on an itinerary that focuses on contemporary art galleries, museums and studios, and goes beyond the obvious to explore the international work being made and presented in this great city. What I didn’t know when I asked Meredith to work on this project was that she would be attending Sotheby’s Master’s of Art Business program in London this fall. So now she goes as an expert on the contemporary art scene AND she will join us on some of our appointments in London, including the Feast on the Bridge by artist Clare Patey. (Watch for a large and ambitious project with Clare at the ASU Art Museum in the future!)

Meredith just got her visa and has her travel plans set. Now she’s trying to find a flat. She has taken full advantage of the opportunities at the ASU Art Museum and has been a great member of our team. We will miss her but look forward to following her career in the field.

–Heather Sealy Lineberry
Senior Curator and Associate Director

August 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Defending Diablo

NOTE: This is a composite photo-illustration of an anaconda by PR Assistant Karen Enters, not an actual representation of Diablo…

Last month, I defended Diablo in front of Arizona State University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Diablo is the 6-foot Anaconda snake that will inhabit one of Juan Downey’s sculptures for the fall exhibition The Invisible Architect.

I have done a lot of things as a contemporary art curator, especially as the role has become more collaborative in the creative process and with the community. I have worked with artists on site-specific installations inside and outside of the Museum, commissions, residencies and socially-engaged work. (John Spiak’s blogs on this site about Gregory Sale’s Social Studies project are a great example.) But this is the first time that I’ve had to defend a live animal “protocol” or investigate the eating (and defecating) habits of large snakes.

We will be borrowing Diablo from the Phoenix Herpetological Society, and they will be caring for him throughout the exhibition and have fully vetted his three-month habitat.

Curiosity and spectacle aside, the reason that I’m doing this is because it is a very powerful piece. Downey first installed the work in 1973, and it was originally produced for a show at The Americas Society in New York. The snake lives during the exhibition on a spectacular hand-drawn map of Chile and is a reference to the North American multinational copper company the Anaconda Mining Company. Anaconda was active in Chile before the nationalization of mining in Chile, which is one of the factors that led international business and its governmental surrogates to eliminate elected democratic president Salvador Allende and replace his government with the Pinochet military regime.

Over the next few months, we’ll be building the platform for the piece and finalizing the exhibition design towards its opening in late September. Many thanks to Lekha Hileman Waitoller, curatorial assistant, who has been managing this effort. She has an interesting new line on her resume.

–Heather Sealy Lineberry
Senior Curator and Associate Director

August 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm

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