On Saturday I made the smart decision to leave rainy New York City and head upstate to Wassaic to take part in The Wassaic Project Summer Festival. The festival is a free event that celebrates Dance, Art, Film, and Music (donations suggested). From their website: Housed in the unique buildings and property of the Wassaic Project, the festival escapes the white walls of traditional art spaces and focuses on site-sensitive installations and performances. The festival creates a weekend-long opportunity for artists and performers of all mediums to come together, exchange ideas, learn new things, and engage in a thriving community. Participants are encouraged to come for the day or stay the weekend, camping onsite. Programming is cutting-edge yet family friendly.
It certainly was all of those things and more. The theme of the festival was Homeward Found, so many of the projects centered around the found object or ideas of “home”. The main art exhibition took place in the old Maxon Mill – a grain elevator and auction barn – which allowed work to be shown in a different context than the standard White Cube. Below are some of the artists that stood out to me.
Ian Addison Hall
(check out his website)
Ian Addison Hall had two images from his series help yourself (it’s all yours) where he photographs objects left “up for grabs” on the sidewalk in his neighborhood in South Brooklyn, but each photograph has been manipulated in some way so the context is not entirely recognizable. In the two he showed, he creates a sort of pedestal out of concrete by defining the edge of the concrete and filling the remaining space with the pattern of the object itself. In his words: The photos have been altered in various ways so that the found objects to echo within the frame. This reverberating effect is intended to represent the energy an object carries with it from its unknown past.
Both of these pieces reference minimalist work from the 50s and 60s (I can’t help but think about Jasper Johns Target painting from 1958). Hall puts a contemporary twist on a formal approach through the use of digital manipulation and found object. The discarded/free object is transformed into an abstract metaphor for our time.
**Images taken from the artist’s website**
(check out her website)
Carmen Osterlye showcased her Den of Blossomy, an installation that took on the feeling of stepping into a Victorian estate turned museum – beautiful furniture displayed in their original context preserved behind velvet rope.
In this case, all the ornate patterning you would expect on the walls and upholstery is being projected. Some of the images were static and others were in motion – flowers opening and closing. It was remarkable that the entire installation was powered by only two projectors.
In her words (from her website): I am fascinated with the relationship between motion and perception. We believe the world around us exists as we see it exist, yet our own seeing is in fact erroneous. The rate at which things come to pass is a dynamic and complex evolution, often too fast or too slow to witness in detail. … My work is about expressing the infinite possibilities of a moving image, replicating life in an uncanny place, and questioning our belief’s and traditions of how and where things should and should not exist.
R. Justin Stewart
(check out his website)
R. Justin Stewart created an intricate web of fleece, rope, and plastic in his installation titled Distorting (a Messiah Project 12CE). This installation is part of an ongoing project in which he researches the concept of the messiah in different cultures and histories. This particular installation deals with the messiah as conceived in the12th century Jewish thought. The work is both coded literally and abstractly. The colors represent themes such as a certain text, a specific idea, or a historical person all linked within this concept of messiah in 12th century Jewish history. Each fleece pod is also equipped with a bar code that a viewer can scan with a mobile device that will grant him/her access to data from Stewart’s research. In this way the viewer can navigate through the tangle of this web and find meaning and understanding. It’s a beautiful convening of historical and religious notions of the messiah with contemporary materials and sensibilities. One aspect I loved about this work was how the rope was threaded throughout the staircase, so I was filled with anticipation each time I reached a landing and found that the rope continued along. It mimicked a sort of pilgrimage in which you weren’t sure when you were going to reach mecca.**Images taken by ME at The Wassaic Project Summer Festival**
Around 5pm there was a moving sound piece/performance that I really liked, but unfortunately I did not catch the artist’s name. He handed out speakers to anyone passing by and just asked that they eventually make their way to the Luther Barn Stage area. I took a little instagram video trying to document the work (I don’t have the capacity to show it on this site, so find it on Instagram).