Friday, February 25, 2011
Many moons ago, when I was in my early-mid 20′s (which there is about a dime of time’s difference to where I am now) I made huge art installations for the Burning Man event in the Black Rock Desert. It was a fantastic opportunity to do very ambitious projects thanks to their generous grant program. I was always amazed at the art out there and would really muster all my forces to do something that contributed to the dialogue of the event.
The first project that I did with my boyfriend at the time was a 17 foot tall Ribcage made from steel pipe (in college I had been doing a lot of steel anthro/biomorphic art so this fit right in). It was also intended to look a bit like a birdcage and even had a wide chain-swing in the middle so a person could swing back and forth, like the heart beating in the body. I hoped that it would convey the sense of eternal hope despite physical limitation.
You can’t see the swing in this shot but thousands of people climbed over it during the week-long event.
Up until I really did not have images of the works, but I threw myself on the mercy of photographer Philippe Glade who had taken glorious images of the work over the years. Here are some of his images of The Living Mandala piece I did in 2001.
For this piece, the viewer sat in this stupa-like chair (if you could look a little lower you would see a smiling face on the base…so you were kind of the “third-eye”). From this vantage point, you would look at a line of sculptures that were all aligned in one spot. Each sculpture represented a phase of life according to Shakespeare. At night, these huge black light projectors (disguised as the heads of angels) would shine light on them and they would illuminate. When you sat in the right spot and all the pieces were spinning, it was supposed to form one vision of a mandala (concentric form) in space, thereby representing a person’s entire life, made up from individual stages. I even had reincarnation worked in there…it really had everything but the kitchen sink.
I think the only disappointment was that I only managed to make 5 of the 7 stages of life and that any vision disorder would make it so the viewer couldn’t see the illusion. Still, when someone saw it…it was a great thing. I used to stay out there and spin the pieces for people like a carnival ride. My friends called me “Vanna White” like from Wheel of Fortune.
The Living Mandala seen from the back.
LotusLand Ballroom 2002
These last images are not Phillipe’s, but I would be remiss in not including it. This project was conceived at a friend’s wedding and inspired by a drums and bass marching band. I wanted to create a whole ballroom that would be like a pipe organ. That year’s theme was Floating World, so it would be a floating lilly or lotus garden where an imaginary waterline would be created with lilly pads and flowers, so as to create an “underwater” and “abovewater” world…making everyone who visited a little fish in the pond.
I worked on this with a Plumber named Paul, who rigged it to shoot giant fireballs at night. When it wasn’t shooting fireballs, the flames lit up the pieces like giant lawn torches. Underneath, I’d put in a bunch of green and blue rope lines and randomly-flashing strobes, so that it would have a visual underwater music of bubbles (plus a cool blue/green glow).
It was a fun piece….I imagined it being a grand art deco-like ball room with singers and people waltzing which happened only in the briefest way…..usually the fire mechanisms would get stuck open and people would have ot run around and kick the flower to put them out. It ended up being more of a soccer game which was a blast!!
Here is more about the project form an article that ran in the paper (with cool photos!) You can see me back in my young, punky days….though notice that crafty hat
So that was my trip through those early big art days. I hope to get back to doing large scale works. Thing is….you have to have a place to store pieces like this!!