|Serbian artist presents interactive, eclectic art exhibit|
|Written by Kevin Pajor, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Sunday, 30 October 2011 14:10|
ISU’s University Galleries are always teeming with multiple exhibitions, all of which are wildly different from one another. Sometimes these are photography exhibitions, sometimes painting and sometimes sculpture. And sometimes, as in the case of Irena Knezevic’s “Here Comes the Darkness” project, they can be very hard to classify.
While a film screening at the Normal Theater last week kicked off the project to ISU’s art community, Saturday night was when it officially opened.
Preceding the opening reception at University Galleries, there was a concert performance. This concert featured ISU dancers and band members. While some audience members may have expected a typical concert featuring dance and musical numbers, this performance was anything but typical.
Upon entering the performance space in room 145 of the Center for Visual Arts, audience members were struck by the performers sitting atop the desks in a lecture hall, in a pyramid-like formation. These included a bevy of dancers in red and black leotards, two French horn players in concert attire and a single drummer wearing a sailor suit and sequined ski mask.
When Knezevic began to let spectators in, she instructed them to take their seats, also on top of the desks. However, she also insisted that they sit symmetrically—two audience members in peacoats, for example, had to sit on opposite sides of one another.
“The ship won’t sail unless it’s balanced,” she joked. Audience members and performers were perfectly integrated, and part of a wider whole. A video camera at the front of the hall captured the people in the room and the video was projected on the white wall.
The performance started slightly late, but when it got underway all people in the hall were instructed to stand atop their desks. They would remain so for the entire show.
The first 10 or 15 audience members to arrive were handed a copy of the score of the concert and asked to read aloud when instructed. There was very little in this concert that was explicitly musical, even though the score had musical dynamics and terms printed on it.
It opened with a very brief series of notes by one of the French horn players and then the spoken word began. While the words (sometimes verse, sometimes prose) were rather obtuse throughout, it eventually took shape as a series of vignettes reflecting on Knezevic’s hometown of Belgrade, Serbia. There were references to Serbia’s infamous dictator Slodoban Milosevic and the NATO bombings carried out in the country throughout the 1990s.
Knezevic, who hails from Belgrade but is based now in Chicago, wrote all of the text herself. “Here Comes the Darkness” is a project two years in the making and the concert performance was an integral part of the project.
“We were reading extracts from various things in the show,” she explained. “They’ll make sense to you now that you’ve seen the performance.”
She reached out to the other members of the arts community for various aspects of the project, including the film which was screened last week.
“We filled the gaps with resources we had here,” she added. “The university offered a lot of resources. [For the concert] I wanted it to be musical without being musical.”
Knezevic credits the success of her project to Kendra Paitz, a curator of the University Galleries.
“As curator, part of what I do is organize shows like this,” Paitz said. “I saw [Knezevic’s] work in 2007 and I’ve been working on this project with her for about a year and a half now.”
Paitz described working with members of the dance and music departments as “very rewarding.”
“It’s been really exciting to draw all of these things together,” she said. “The audience becomes part of the work, which helps them construct meaning for it.”
The visual aspect of “Here Comes the Darkness,” which consists of a vast array of sculptures and photographs, will remain on display at University Galleries through the end of the semester. The next exploration of the project’s themes will come in another unique form. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3, Knezevic’s texts will be discussed and argued by ISU’s debate team in CVA 145.