October 19th opened the newly renovated galleries at The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. The post-modern shifting of space with barely noticeable inclining walls lead you from one room the the next with a fluidity that seems most organic. The two solo shows representing the re-birth of this space memorialized life and commemorated energy in various ways. Fallen Fruit, a duo from California, made a big splash in the SouthEast by deeply engaging with the community and historical artifacts. Their presentation of stacked portraits, against a vibrant and colorful wall of fecundity, reminded me of my undergraduate visit to The Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania. The juxtaposition of Courbet’s pearly romanticism, Gauguin’s romantic primitives, and Picasso’s cubist romantics invited the viewer to observe the direction of influence between such artists, as well as, fresh themes unseen before. Steven L. Anderson’s installation provided a visual relief and recovery from the overwhelming visual experience next door. This light, airy, peaceful space welcomes calm and ushers spiritual presence. The Mandalas or spirals on the wall act as points of energy all pointing towards the center, where the human spirit dwells during this experience.
STEVEN L. ANDERSON I ENERGY STRATEGIES
Circles, the continuum of life, energy spheres, mandalas, in the round, fill this space along with a burst of pentagrams. Steven L. Anderson’s work on shifting and renegotiating energy provides an opportunity to break with society, social pressures and the normal and immerse yourself in the sublime. This installation encourages floor-sits and audience participation, though the work is not engaged until the audience is present.
Circles of cushion surround the mandala in the center of the room, beckoning you to shed the weight of the world by collapsing and directing energy towards the center. The circular mantras behind you provide a force field of energy, reinforcing the energy enclosed inside your bodily form and supporting the release of what you resolved to let go. A strong sense of sanctity surrounds the center, defining a space for the holy, venerated, sacrosanct or facilitator of energy (or workshop). The center guides, interprets, directs and absorbs energy to heal the spirits that have joined the atmospheric seance. Reminiscent of Sun Ra’s echoed Enlightenment lyrics “Hereby, my invitation, I do invite you, be of my space world.”
These MANTRA-alas were created as part of the artist’s personal efforts to bring about change in his life or in the greater community. Words chanting rhythmically by the haste or fatigue of the artist’s hand make declarations unto the world reordering spiritually-motivated priorities. This contiguous wordplay can be traced back to ancient and modern religions and traditions (think: Buddhist Monks, Buddhist, Angela Basset playing Tina Turner in “Whats Love Got to Do With It”, or the legion of gangsta or trap music, “Versace, Versace, Versace” reinforcing superficial ideas amongst youth culture today). Though these reinforcements play a significant role in how one interprets their experiences and/or sees reality, they still rely heavily on one’s consciousness and willingness to accept the declarations as truth.
The circle is also re-inscribed by a virtual quad of visual recording devices. These instruments, which appear to be of practical use in the show, recording the activity inside the gallery, show something different than what appears before the lens, or does it? Scenes of nature, a spinning feminine figure, microscopic views of flora and fauna are perceived as recording the phenomenon occurring only feet away. One might argue that these devices are on their “playback” function, but who is to argue the manifestation of the essence of the activity possibly being captured? (Think: Stephanie Dowda’s cameras). Recording devices capture atmospheric activity, but the experience of this activity is subjective and dependent on the intention. Stephanie Dowda’s cameras also have a way of recording the sublime in ways that are not easily accessible by the human eye, but understood in terms of the abstract or ephemeral moments.
Behind the far wall, sequestered off to the side, out of view is a little hidden gem, The Grow Room. This lush space, occupied by green-green ferns, offers the guest a place to relax and re-juvenate, away from the world outside. The elevated oxygen, painted gradations of light, shag rug, and comfy pillows temporarily remove you from the chaos, or energy-intense manipulation just beyond the wall and/or the walls of The Contemporary. This place is open to the public whenever there is a need for relief.
This exhibition exposes the importance of being aware of your energy, the spaces you inhabit, the energy you surround yourself with and the positive and negative aspects of it. We can improve our experience by simply manipulation: energetically, psychically, or spiritually. Without this space to counter the chaos in our lives we cannot expect to live healthy and happy lives. Where is your space located?
There is a ton of programming associated with Steven L. Anderson Energy Strategies exhibition, from afternoon yoga sessions, to panel discussions, to weed walks around the area, please visit ACAC’s website: http://www.thecontemporary.org/exhibitions/steven-l-anderson-energy-strategies/ or the artist’s website: Stevenlanderson.com. The Contemporary is located at 535 Means Street NW Atlanta, GA 30318. The galleries are open Tuesday-Saturday 11am-5pm, Thursday until 8pm. The exhibition continues through December 14, 2013.