By Kate Phillips
Sun Correspondent Sopris
Thought-provoking and inspiring, the Aspen Art Museum’s (AAM) groundbreaking “Mountain/Time” summer exhibition is a captivating time-based media experience that inspires visitors to reimagine their view of the world.
Featuring notable works on loan from the Rosenkranz Collection and the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art (WMAA), the museum-wide exhibition highlights 12 diverse artists who transport visitors through time and space to through cinema, dance, music, archival research, language and science fiction. .
“[The exhibition] speaks to our overall ambition to create moments of surprise and present ideas and programs that our audiences may not necessarily be familiar with,” said Simone Krug, Assistant Curator at AAM.
By completely revamping the museum, WMAA curators Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz and Chrissie Iles, along with AAM general curator Anisa Jackson and Krug, have created an experience that blends the artists’ ideas around “the re -mapping, migration, black and indigenous geographies, storytelling and time,” according to a press release.
“I think Nicola [Lees, director of AAM,] and Chrissie had been in conversation for a long time and thought, “Wouldn’t it be unusual and amazing to do an exhibition like this in a way that we’ve never done? “, explained Krug.
With more than six hours of content, and spread over the three floors of the museum, the exhibition is indeed atypical, and ambitious. However, it was never intended to be seen all at once, but rather over time, similar to the approach one would take when exploring the Rocky Mountains.
“Museum-wide, time-based media exhibits are often shown in major urban centers like New York, London, or Los Angeles. We want to think about what it might mean to show an exhibition like this in the mountains,” Krug said. “Chrissie and Anisa are such amazing seekers. They came here and visited ACES [the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies]and they began to think seriously about the systems in our environment.
Inspired by the strength and connectivity of the complex, multi-layered Pando root system of the Valley’s aspen forests, “Mountain/Time” weaves together artists’ stories to create a thought wonderland that “re-maps” our historical concepts.
“We are at a time when everything around us is being questioned, both in academia and in the kinds of exhibits we put on,” Krug continued. “Re-mapping takes the idea of challenging the status quo or questioning what we think we know, and reframing it from a new perspective.”
Speaking clearly about the concept of re-mapping, Brazilian artist Clarissa Tossin’s video “Ch’u Mayaa” explores the cultural appropriation of Aztec architecture through movement and sound. Using Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1921 Mayan-inspired Hollyhock House as a backdrop, a dancer uses poses and gestures from ancient Mayan pottery and murals to dramatically reshape the building, transforming it back into a temple Maya.
Joining Tossin on the ground floor are artists Alan Michelson and Doug Aitken. “Pehin Hanska ktepi (They Killed the Long Hair),” by Six Nations of the Grand River Mohawk member Michelson, uses a 1926 film, projected onto a woolen blanket, of veterans celebrating the 50th anniversary of a war victory, featuring Indigenous strength and culture. Aitken’s work “migration (empire)” playfully provokes the idea of the fake “wild west” through a surreal film of wild animals in interior settings.
On a lower level, race and social injustice come to the fore in transgender activist and filmmaker Tourmaline’s film “Mary of Ill Fate.” Shedding light on the continued and unjust erasure of black, queer and transgender people over time, viewers follow the story of Mary Jones, a black trans woman living in Seneca Village, New York in the 19th century.
Anchoring visitors to the upper level, Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai’s installation transforms the room into a mysterious earth-covered forest floor that invites visitors to interact with the art. His films, “Songs for Dying” and “Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3”, question the geopolitics of Thailand and the artist’s personal relationships, in particular what it means to be alive and how we interact with our environment.
Through September 11, “Mountain/Time” also includes works by Kahlil Joseph, Kandis Williams, Arthur Jafa, Anicka Yi, Ian Cheng, Maia Ruth Lee and Mark Lecky.
“We hope ‘Mountain/Time’ will broaden our visitors’ understanding of what art can be,” Krug said. “And hopefully our viewers will absorb and learn something they didn’t know before.”
Related events are underway across the valley, with the July 30 screening of two films by Thai artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul at the Arts Campus in Willits. On August 4, artist Korakrit Arunanondchai and director Alex Gvojic will present “Together” in an Aspen meadow. Registered participants will take part in the Traveling Cinema event inspired by cinematic practices in rural northeast Thailand.
Visit www.aspenartmuseum.org to learn more.