Arts exhibit review

Beyond the familiar: exploring perception through different media

The List Visual Arts Center showcases "Seeing while Moving" by Charlotte Moth and "At Odds" by Gwenneth Boelens

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"At Odds" features arts made with chromogenic color print (photogram), metal, magnets, chromogenic color print (opaque projection), paper, glass, umbrella frame, and tie-wrap.
Courtesy of Gwenneth Boelens

Seeing while Moving
By Charlotte Moth

At Odds
By Gwenneth Boelens

MIT List Visual Arts Center

Curator: Henriette Huldisch

Feb. 17–Apr. 16, 2017

For the next two months, the List Visual Arts Center at MIT will be showcasing two exhibitions by artists located abroad that challenge and explore the perception of the mundane through photography, sculpture, and installation.

Seeing while Moving is the work of Charlotte Moth, a Paris-based artist. About 17 years ago, Moth first began her Travelogue, a series of photographs collected during her travels. Moth’s Travelogue provides material for her work: she inspects and amplifies the ordinary details in the scenes, transforming our ordinary perception of the buildings and spaces that we occupy into one that is uncanny and wonderful.  

In the center of the exhibit lies Noting Thoughts (2011), a collection of tabletop photographs and text fragments which have unique spacing and eloquent wording. I enjoyed the thoughtful, poetic text that lay side by side the Travelogue photographs, as it provided a commentary on the concepts of staging and modernism, and juxtaposes image and text.

In addition to investigating the sense of sight, Moth explores the sense of touch in Living Images (2016), which consists of a pair of metal hands holding simple objects. Moth places familiar objects in strange contexts once again in Lurking Sculpture (Rotating Rubber Plant) (2016), which consists of a 3D-printed houseplant slowly rotating.

Study for a 16mm Film (2011) is a silent film made in Portugal that explores color, light, staging, and display. Moth’s in-motion camera captures light reflection on objects and furniture. The mobile, gleaming objects create a fantastical sight, representing Moth’s style and originality when it comes to finding new ways to challenge our perception of the familiar.

Gwenneth Boelens, an artist located in Amsterdam, also challenges perception through innovative methods. Specifically, her work in photography and sculpture focuses on movement in time and its connection with memory. At Odds, her first solo museum exhibition, features photograms, wall installations, weavings, floor sculptures, and even an acoustic piece.

Boelens’s photograms are made over an extended exposure period during which moving bodies carrying objects or “shields” act as a barrier for the light source. This process inscribes moments in time of both obstruction and shelter onto the photosensitive paper. The production process is thus critical to how the final product looks.

Boelens’s novel approaches to expressing artistic perceptions are also evident in Liar’s Cloth (2017). She meticulously weaves electroconductive and reflective fibers into a hanging textile that spans the diagonal of the room. The use of a forensic chemical reveals the fingerprints of the weaver on the material, highlighting Boelens’s interest in exposing the past traces of her work.

In Seeing while Moving and At Odds, conventional perceptions are challenged and explored by Charlotte Moth and Gwenneth Boelens. Both artists are concerned with visual and tactile perception laced with another dimension. They infuse their photographs, sculptures, and installations with a direct link to memory and time. Their use of contemporary and inventive techniques take the perception of familiar things to a deeper and more thought-provoking level.