Wednesday, February 10, 2010
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The new exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (iMOCA) features seven years worth of Kathryn Refi's art and is called Records. Refi is based in Athens, Georgia and holds an MFA from the University of Georgia, Athens. Her art investigates daily life through the lens of scientific processes. She records data from her normal activities and uses the results to create very controlled art, which ironically gives her more artistic freedom. Beginning to question notions of subjectivity and objectivity helped lead Refi to the implementation of scientific processes in her art. Just as a scientific experiment must contain controls, so does the process of creating art for Refi; controls serve to make sure that she only collects and represents in the final artwork exactly what data is relevant to the question she is probing. "The controls I put on the work give me more freedom and actually allow me to be free to some extent from the academic training I received as an artist. I don't use many of those things I've been taught, so it actually allows more freedom for the work to just be itself and not have to conform to ideas of aesthetics," she says.
Refi, a self-described creature of habit, has noticed that her daily life is very routine as a result of her explorations. Although the data collected in most of Refi's work that is on display here are directly referential to her own experiences, they still make the viewer question their own personal experience and the world around them. Unlike many artists who focus on a way of working or a specific theme for long periods of time, Refi sets out to explore a question and then moves on. As a result, her body of work is constantly changing and reflecting new questions, ideas and processes. "Ultimately, the questions that I'm trying to answer in my work are unanswerable, and that's half the point, and half the point is just keeping on searching even if you don't find an answer," Refi explains.
The body of work presented in Records is thought-provoking in its uncommon methodology used in dissecting what appear to be very mundane experiences. Truly beautiful art has emerged from Refi's explorations. The scale and meticulous discipline and detail in each piece in the show is very impressive. The art could function as aesthetically appealing abstract, minimal work even without its conceptual backing, which is interesting considering how grounded and controlled it is by its conceptual basis. Engaging Refi's art means reevaluating one's daily life and what happens within it, as well as engaging questions of subjectivity and objectivity in the world around us.
For more words and pictures and a video interview with Refi, go to OUTPOSTS FROM THE MATERIAL WORLD