Friday, July 17, 2009

Judith G. Levy Installation at IMA

Judith G. Levy
Memory Cloud
35mm film transparencies, plastic viewers,
and chain

Thought I would attempt to do some live blogging from the IMA today, so bear with me.

Judith G. Levy a one time Indianapolis resident, (she has recently moved to Lawrence, Kansas) has just finished a new installation in the Efroymson Pavilion (other wise known as the entry way of the IMA). This being the first installation in that space by someone with a connection to the local art community. I am always glad to see a local/locally connected artist make their way into the rotation at the IMA. I only hope that this remains a continuous thread in their curatorial plans. Though I would love to see the IMA adopt a similar project to the MCA's 12x12 program whereby each month they present the work of an emerging local artist. While here in Indy, the curators may strain to find 12 worthwhile artists a year for a number of years, but it could always be scaled down to a handful of artists each year with longer exhibition periods. But that is all talk for another day. Back to the installation at hand...

My first impressions upon walking into the space to view Memory Cloud was a one of admiration on the scale of the piece, that hangs over the entry way like a low hanging cloud. The piece is a bit much to take in at first, being quite close to you but slowly as you spend more time with it, walking around the space, stepping back and viewing it from a distance the form of the piece begins to take on a more striking form. Memory Cloud is a mass arrangement of 35mm slides, each in its own plastic viewfinder (the kind I remember getting as a child when I visited Disney World), hanging from a massive aluminum structure. It is these translucent plastic viewfinders that really create this illusion of form while the images themselves can not be seen except for a small fraction of them which happen to hang low enough for passers-by to peer through. The images viewed are a collection of found or appropriated slides of people and family life not unlike what many of us may have in our own family photo albums at home.

Memory Cloud takes on a more conceptual slant than many of Levy's earlier works and installations that I have personally seen. These images in plastic viewers that are out or reach, hovering overhead takes on this metaphorical presence of the collective memory of the public, shared ideas and emotions. These are all things most of us can relate to.

The longer I looked at this piece, seated here at my table as I write this, the more it seems to come together for me at least on a formalist level. Seeing the pieces sway slightly in the breeze and watching how the changing light levels play off to the plastic viewers becomes calming. Not unlike watching the leaves on a tree. If you happen to be at the IMA over the next couple months you will not easily miss seeing this work. Congrats to Judith!

UPDATE: This installation is a variation of an earlier work which was exhibited at Big Car Gallery last year. If you remember the piece from that exhibition, check out the latest incarnation at the IMA. I had the opportunity to see the earlier work and it was nice to see how the installation changed/evolved, while seeing how the artist played with each of the spaces in a different way. You can see images from that earlier installation at Big Car at this Flickr page.

Click here for the IMA's info on the installation.

7 Responses to “Judith G. Levy Installation at IMA”

ArtistDan said...
July 17, 2009 at 8:14 PM

Great to see you writing again, Scott.

Another minor element that garnered my attention was the ball chains used to hang the slide viewers. Those type of chains were used more often up to the time period of the slides than today (IMO). Even though the choice of ball chain provides a fairly secure suspension, a variety of materials would have worked.

But for me, those ball chains are a tactile delight and inspires it's own reminiscences in harmony with the period transparencies.

Scott said...
July 18, 2009 at 12:50 AM

I noticed those as well Dan. Thanks for pointing that out. I remember the first time I had one of those little plastic viewers, from Disney World or some other theme park when I was a kid, and it too used the same sort of ball chain attachment so that the viewer could double as a key ring. Whether Judith was thinking along these same lines or simply chose the ball chain for their purely material and aesthetic qualities we may not know. Then again, perhaps she will post here and let us know. By the way Judy, if you do read this, my apologies for missing the artist reception, I confused my days.

Lirio said...
July 20, 2009 at 11:57 PM

I was hoping that the containers would get filled with water and then have some sort of prism effect when the sun was shing through them.....wishfull thinking!'s a lovely cloud.

Anonymous said...
July 22, 2009 at 2:56 PM

This installation is as boring as the others I've seen at the IMA.
It is so boring your talking about the chains not the obvious.
It sucks!

Scott said...
July 23, 2009 at 12:42 AM

Anonymous, I am very much not interested in attempting to change your opinion of the piece. Perhaps it is boring to some people. You obviously do not like it. I just wanted to know if you enjoyed ANY of the previous installations in the same space, be it the Julian Opie, the Julianne Swartz, the Tony Feher, the Friends With You, or the Orly Genger? Am I forgetting one? I am just curious. I have said on a number of occasions that the entry pavilion is a highly difficulty space for an artist to work with for an installation. That said, I have felt that most of the attempts have been interesting at the very least.

Anonymous said...
July 23, 2009 at 1:40 PM

This space is not difficult.
This blog is full of amateurs


Scott said...
July 23, 2009 at 1:52 PM

You still did not answer my quesiton, so I am going to assume that you have not seen all the installations I listed.

A space with practically no flat walls, encircled by windows, competing with a huge front desk, 2 escalators, with the limitation of not hindering (too much) the flow of pedestrian traffic, a three story high slanting ceiling, and lets not forget the large columns. If not difficult, then at the very least, quite challenging in my opinion.

As for all of us amateurs, well, you are right, I do not get paid for blogging. Perhaps you do. Congratulations, anonymous.

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