"Good Mourning Tis of Thee", an expansive art installation directed and curated by the multimedia artist Alyssa Taylor Wendt and Co-Lab Projects' Executive Director and Curator Sean Gaulager, exhibited work from over 65 artists and performers from Texas, New York, Detroit and Seattle. This interactive exhibition will address topical issues such as grief, loss, death, architecture and urban development. Staged in an old building shell in downtown Austin currently being used by Co-Lab Projects as their gallery space, visitors will be able to move through areas devoted to themes of mourning, darkness and transformation and occasionally interact with durational performances both during gallery hours and at designated events throughout the run of the show. The show is especially relevant as the building is slated for subsequent demolition to make room for a planned development on this site.
The concept behind this show, conceived of by Miss Wendt, looks at death as a positive agent and component of change. American culture has few rituals around death or processing death and she hopes that the artists involved will bring not only their own ideas, superstitions and rituals around mortality, but also those of different cultures and belief systems. We all have the capacity to use such markers of change as vehicles for new beginnings and transformative magic. In a time when the country is grieving so many things we take for granted and grappling with an unpopular and oppressive political administration, we need to look for avenues of transformation and how we can use the alchemy of art and community for processing such grief. Referencing such exhibitions as Mike Nelson’s "A Psychic Vacuum", produced by Creative Time in New York in 2003, the curators are using an existing building in its purgatorial state with a specifically built art environment so that the two are indistinguishable and each portion of the show is subjectively ambiguous, pushing questions about space and perception rather than providing dogmatic answers about how to look at art. Visitors to the exhibition will be guided to move freely in between the curated areas of the building in no particular order, ending with the message implied by the title, that each one of us is a source of positive change through cycles of ending and new beginnings.
Curated by Wendt and Sean Gaulager, with a generous grant from the city of Austin and the Cultural Arts Division, have chosen a specific group of installation artists and performers to create the immersive environment including: Jon Brumit; Chris Carlone; Gail Chovan; Maggie Douglas; Michael Anthony Garcia; Oren Goldenberg; Joshua Goode; Frank Haines; Hollis Hammonds; Ryan Hawk; Geoff Hippenstiel; Scott Hocking; Jules Buck Jones; Joseph Keckler; Jardine Libaire; Marne Lucas; Colin McIntyre; Angelbert Metoyer; Landon O’Brien; Matt Rebholz; Cristin Richard; Benjy Russell; Seth Orion Schwaiger; Julia Solis; Michael Stephen; Terri Thomas; Bruce Lee Webb; Alyssa Taylor Wendt; Steve Wiman; Matt Winters; Rachel Wolfson-Smith and many others. Their contributions are sexually, ethnically and artistically diverse and will help illustrate the diversity necessary to understand and broaden our thinking about difficult subjects such as death and change. These artists will work with the main space and the basement to create a large variety of installed works from video to sculpture to mobiles addressing death and grief.
The curators dedicated a large salon style space in the main gallery called the Bardo Salon. Comprised of 2D works by over 40 artists that illustrate death and sorrow in various presentations, they hope to create a space for contemplation and conversation. In addition to additional work from some of the aforementioned artists, contributors include: Michael Abelman; Toni Ardizzone; Shawn Camp; Livia Cocchi; Erin Cunningham; Alex Diamond; Rachelle Diaz; Dan Estabrook; Stefany Anne Golberg; Amy Guidry; Katy Horan; Lindsay Hutchens; Madeline Irvine; Tlisza Jaurigue; Rebecca Marino; Robert Melton; Cynthia Mitchell; Christos Pathiakis; Lacey Richter; Beth Schindler; Lauren Silberman; Brad Walton; Jason Webb; and Marcus Zilliox.
Alyssa Taylor Wendt has a long history with both visual art and performance. A unique project for Austin, the piece uses her artistic concerns, while provoking ideas concerning urban redevelopment and surrounding death and grieving. She believes that both the fear of death in our culture and the lack of concern for history and preservation in an age of rapid development and gentrification is an important conversation that she is exploring through the lens of art with this exhibition.
-Public Programs Included-
Sunday, October 15th, 4-6pm:
"In the Round: Death and Urban Renewal" Panel Discussion, Q&A
Friday, October 20th, 8-10pm:
"DARK AX I": Performance Event featuring Chris Carlone butoh ritual, Sandy Smiles (Frank Haines), and more
Saturday, October 21st, 2-4pm:
"Draw-a-Ghost Workshop" for kids led by Katy Horan, Emily Cayton, and Alyssa Taylor Wendt
Thursday, October 26th, 8-10pm:
"DARK AX II": Performance Event featuring Marne Lucas and Marnie Castor (Duelling Doulas), Michael Anthony Garcia, and Jardine Libaire
Saturday, October 28th, 9-12pm:
"Fear the Reaper: A Dance Party", Halloween DJ Dance Party where everyone is dressed up as DEATH
Thursday, November 2nd, 8-10pm:
"An Evening Performance and Reading with Joseph Keckler"
Friday, November 17th, 7-10pm:
Catalog Release Party