By Rowanne Dean / Spectator Staff Writer
October 21, 2014, 1:07am
A childhood game is given an artistic makeover in Postcrypt Art Gallery’s newest exhibit.
This Friday, Postcrypt will present “Exquisite Corpse” in partnership with students from Wesleyan University.
“Exquisite Corpse” began as an artistic game among Surrealist artists in the 1920s in which a group of artists, sharing a folded piece of paper, would each draw parts of a body based only on the very bottom section of what their partner had drawn before them. After a quick back-and-forth, the artists would reveal the final—often disjointed and bizarre—figure.
“The weird thing about this game is that it’s collaborative, but you have your own autonomy in your given space,” the exhibit’s organizer, Katie Lee, CC ’16, said.
As in the original game, drawings, poetry, and collage will be presented, but the Postcrypt artists have used contemporary technology to expand the game to include choreographed dance pieces, sculptures, photographs, programming, musical compositions, and mixed media.
Participating students were assigned partners either from Wesleyan or Columbia. Over the past month, the pairs have been assembling their pieces together, mostly over email.
“In this case it’s interesting because it’s a social interaction … with someone you’ve never met,” said Joe Bucciero, CC ’15, who helped organize the show. Though the game is inherently collaborative, using email has made it more impersonal and added an extra level of mystery to the process.
Lee and her co-curator Sophia Jennings, Wesleyan ’16, met while in high school in London. They have since been working on projects via Skype and email from Seoul to San Francisco, and now from New York to Connecticut.
“The kind of art that Katie and I talk about is art that is applicable to our post-globalized, supranational identities, ones that have a very hard time defining a home,” Jennings said.
Though working with a stranger online leaves a lot of room for surprise, it can also add some frustration, as issues—both in technology and communication— arise when you are collaborating via the internet.
“The scanner makes everything super dark and you can clearly see all the lines, and so that’ll change how maybe she interprets the small section that I send to her,” Rachel Ng, CC ’17, said of her collaboration with her assigned partner at Wesleyan. The two students are working on a figural graphite drawing.
By using email, the exhibit also explores how technology has redefined social interactions.
“People on campus will be working on film projects or working on music, and they’ll be chatting with other kids on campus, emailing them back and forth, sending and saving files, doing this, doing that,” Jennings said. “‘Exquisite Corpse’ is an opportunity for us to take that process and put it into a final product.”
“Exquisite Corpse” is not just a display of finished art pieces, but also one of processes—on an interpersonal and technological level. In all cases, the artists will experience the final, complete piece for the first time on the night of exhibition, and for some, the mounting tension has left them very curious.
“I don’t like waiting,” Ng said. “I just want to see.”
“Exquisite Corpse” will be on display for one night only this Friday, Oct. 24, from 7-10 p.m. at Postcrypt Art Gallery in the basement of St. Paul’s Chapel.
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