The Vermont Cynic

Artists act as curators in new exhibition series at BCA

Keely Lyons, Staff Writer

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In the basement of the Burlington City Arts Center, a bleached piece of celery sat in a cardboard box filled halfway with water. The sterility of the once-edible vegetable was echoed by the white walls and beige carpet in the room.

The pipes of the building burst into the exhibit space, and the low-hanging ceiling compressed viewers as an eerie film of a man having his head ritually shaved was projected onto the blank wall.

The BCA hosted the first talk Sept. 26 in a series of exhibitions that will be taking place in the next few months at the gallery through its “Artist’s Artists” series.  

The series will feature artists as curators as they choose work that has influenced their own artistic practice and will feature a community talk at the BCA with each curator.

The first exhibition, curated by guest curator Pete Moran, brought together two contemporary artists who focus on the viewer’s experience with art.

Moran combined the tactile, conceptual work of Tim Simonds with the grainy films of Ashish Avikunthak. Simonds’ work, a combination of several pieces, centered around a carpeted platform titled “For”, while Avikunthank’s work played on a loop on a blank wall.

The combination of both artists, though vastly different in medium, is about the theme of time and personal experience with the piece, Moran said.

“Both sets of work sort of traffic in your experience, or at least they pretend or play with the elements of experience,” he said. “I think when you’re in here you feel like you’re somewhere very different, and I get the same feeling when I look at Ashish’s film.”

Ana Paula Sleeman, a curatorial intern at the BCA, reacted immediately to the piece.

“When I first saw the piece I thought about the philosophy behind the work and not so much the material aspect of it, because once you get in, it’s just an experience completely,” she said.

Moran would often visit the galleries while viewers were looking at the piece to see how they would react, he said.

“I’m so curious, that we do this funny thing in this building that we call art and it’s this thing that no one can really define, every definition is the least meaningful and yet also the most meaningful word we have,” Moran said. “And this is kind of weird art, I think.”

Moran’s exhibition, “The Way You Look, is the first in a series meant to bring diverse perspectives and art to the space, BCA curator Heather Ferrel said.

“As you can tell, Pete is a very thoughtful, intelligent artist, and I basically loved how he thought,” she said. “And he thought in a way that is very different from me. As a curator, I think it is important that a place such as BCA includes other points of views and other ways of seeing the world.”

Moran’s work will be on view until Oct. 7 at the BCA and will be followed by the next artist in the series, which will also be accompanied by a conservation with the curator.

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Artists act as curators in new exhibition series at BCA