Sunday, August 29, 2010

Exhibiting Artist : Andrea Oleniczak

In the age where digital photo frames are commonplace, the notion of a "video still life" only makes sense. The intent is poetic : the portrayal of a seemingly still landscape, knowing that no moment is still as the one preceding or succeeding it. The video begins with a still of a budding tree on Belle Isle and the skyline of Detroit behind it. Using a ladder, the artist fills the arms of this tree with clear glass oranges that contain fresh orange juice, leaving behind an image of the city with a fruitful tree.

Orange Tree is a nostalgic rendition of the notion of a still image in which, conventionally, time seemed to freeze up. In the video, what is invisible to us in a traditional still life or landscape painting - breeze whistling through trees, leaves fluttering on the ground, etc - are made visible to us in the frame of video. Here, the clouds pass. We see the painstaking and time-consuming process of placing objects in the landscape. The beautiful oxymoron lies in the impression of a still image despite all of this.

The addition of oranges - bright colored, tangy, juicy fruit - to the otherwise bland, bare and cold scenery speak s to a different kind of association in the artist's mind : " Detroit is a city of abandonment; abandoned production, homes, schools and industry....(I) create a more fruitful image of Detroit." Of course, the oranges are not real oranges that will perish. They are glass objects and will remain. They hung on the tree like Christmas balls, which they are not. They resemble fruit, signs of eternal hope and optimism in a colorless landscape. They, along with their smell, give the passerby (of the landscape) the opportunity to ponder their presence, in a way different from holiday decoration or plant growth.

As is common to post-glass artists, all this trouble is undertaken to create a few moments of experience. The glass oranges are recycled to become something else.
The passerby is gone with a refreshed mind. And the viewer of the episode is left with the image of a fruitful tree in her mind. The investment here, like many post-glass artists, is in time, not in object.

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