LOST IN THE MEMORY PALACE: JANET CARDIFF AND GEORGE BURES MILLER
It was a day where I had already reached the ‘end of my rope’. I was exhausted in every way possible; my brain felt like jelly while the rest of me had been through a jenny! I was attempting to go to the beach when I remembered how much I had wanted to see the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla! I was close enough to head over and find a two hour parking spot right in front. I parked and made my way in; admission was reasonable at $10 and was valid for seven days at both the La Jolla and Downtown museums. Nice.
Previous attempts go to the museum had been thwarted by others interests, or time constraints of one kind or another. Today was different. I was by myself and I needed art to sooth my frazzled brain and soul. I had no idea what I was about to experience or the impact it would have on my creativity. The description on the exhibition on the MCASD website (https://www.mcasd.org/exhibitions/lost-memory-palace-janet-cardiff-and-george-bures-miller) explains that the “multimedia artworks of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller emphasize aural and visual experiences that transport the viewer to other realms of consciousness”. This is an understatement at best. I was totally blown away by this exhibition. THIS is art in it’s purest expression. It felt raw, and I felt raw after experiencing it. Raw in a good way, in a take-it-down-to-the-nub way; like I got to push restart and get another chance.
The idea of art as an experience is exciting to me! I got to BE a part of their art, their “imaginary spaces”. They had US in mind when they put this work together, that we might experience their expression. The first piece I saw was, the ‘Killing Machine’ which was “mixed media, sound, pneumatics, robotics”. I should mention that each piece/experience/installation is in a different room where you can shut the door and have that experience. You can stay as long as you like, and you might want to because there is so much to see!
Back to the ‘Killing Machine’… The staging of this is brilliant; walk into a large sterile white room to see it erected in the center with a button that you get to push to start. The lights go out, eery music begins, and the robotic arms begin swiveling ominously around the dentist-like chair in center of the whole thing. At one point I was certain the robotic arms were looking at me, as if to invite me into the chair for a creepy-yet-efficient lethal injection. The reason the staging is so brilliant is the effect is has on this experience. You can walk around the whole thing before/during/after watching it, and the white walls serve as an amazing canvas for the disco ball ending that I can only assume is the person in the chair who has crossed to the other side and has become the stars. F*^king phenomenal. I sat in front of this one, by myself, with my hands lightly over my ears (to hold in my brains… my mind was being blown) in amazement thinking, “there really are no limits to artistic expression!!!”
Experiment in F# Minor is another really cool piece. This one, as with all the pieces, alters time, “allowing fictional and historical narratives to blend and merge with the viewer’s own experience and memory”. The ‘room’ is piled high with records, books, magazines and a whole lot of other ‘crap’ (it was far from crap) that set the stage for the experience. The narrator’s voice is slow and deep and I found myself loving the tone, pace and words. The music builds until finally the whole room pulses with light, then lighting strikes as thunders booms. So cool!
I felt totally immersed in this alternate space. It felt like home. I was completely captivated by each installation. I also realize I was led there to see and understand the unlimited ways that I can express myself! Artistic expression contains the freedom that I crave, the freedom from the crazy chaos of this world and it’s oppressive limitations. Through their art Janet and George give us permission to have a different experience where the freedom and beauty is found in what at first seems to be creepy, dirty, ugly or used-up.
The show runs from Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 through Sunday, Jan 12, 2014 at MCASD La Jolla