This exhibition features four previous Currents New Media Festival artists collected together to explore themes of the darkest quarter of the year. From a retelling of a classic winter witch tale through smell to an exploration of inner-turmoil projected into a miniature house and hospital, these works allow us to sink into the deepest reaches of our psyche during the cold season. This show will run early December to late March, interspersed with several pop-ups and events.
Hospital is a sculptural representation of a mental hospital and medical marijuana dispensary. The piece consists of two structures – one free-standing and one on the wall – with a spinning video hanging above in the center. Videos of rapid eye movement, spiraling stop-action animation, and repetitious actions such as looking in the mirror and trimming marijuana, reference paranoia and surveillance, and a cacophony of sounds draw the viewer into a miniature world of institutional and holistic therapy. Hospital is part of an ongoing sculptural installation and video documentation of private, public, and fantasy spaces that are both autobiographical and based on female-centered spaces. In these works, Sarah Stolar use the dollhouse format—a tiny toy world that is created and manipulated during the earliest years of life—as a metaphor for childhood illusions, dreams, and nightmares. Applying adult narratives to a classic young girls’ play-land invites questions about childhood development, gender expectations, the simplicity of youth, and the complexity of adulthood. With a skeleton of wood, they are constructed from any material that can be manipulated into a believable miniature. A sculpture may include video, drawings, handmade objects, sound, digitally manipulated photos, deconstructed motors, lighting, and various studio junk. Most of the exteriors are left rough, with wires and tech exposed, while the interiors are delicate and highly refined. This is an aesthetic response to the chaos of our external climate and the safety of our private spaces — both physical and psychological; or, as it is more directly related to this piece — agoraphobia. These works function as multi-channel video installations, but also as sets for Super 8 and 16mm film and digital video which explore the same themes. Common threads in the work include coming of age, loss of innocence, sex, death, and spiritual confrontation.
Hospital was created and installed in 2010 for SICK, an exhibition on nature of healthcare in the current socio-political climate at Root Division in San Francisco. It was later reconfigured for Currents New Media Festival 2011 in Santa Fe — Sarah Stolar’s first exhibition in New Mexico, four years prior to her relocation to the Southwest from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sarah Stolar (b. 1974, Chicago, IL) is an interdisciplinary Feminist artist who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Working from a vast technical perspective, the breadth of her work includes painting, drawing, multimedia installation, film, video and performance art. Sarah is the daughter of accomplished multimedia artist and educator Merlene Schain, and in the family lineage of 19th-century German painter Adolph von Menzel and Rookwood Pottery master potter John von Menzel of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. She grew up in her mother’s art studio and award-winning art school Schain Studios (Cincinnati, OH), received a BFA in Painting from the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and an MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute. Sarah also collaborates with artist collectives and non-profit organizations. She has worked on three feature-length films, curated five gallery and museum exhibitions, and created wearable art and props for notable international performance artists. Her most current multidisciplinary collaboration with Seth D. Myers, The Bella Ribbons Project, has garnered immediate attention winning recognition and awards for their films. Sarah’s visual art, performance, and collaborative work have exhibited across the United States and in Spain, Germany, Austria, Finland, Italy, and Cuba, as well as solo exhibitions at the New Mexico Museum of Art – Alcoves 20/20, Harwood Museum of Art -Studio 238, and the Bohemian Gallery & Museum of Contemporary Art in Montevideo, Uruguay. Her work has been featured in publications including The Nation Magazine, LandEscape Art Review, Nomos Journal, and Hyperallergic. A committed educator for over a fifteen years, Sarah Stolar serves on multiple boards and academic committees, and is currently the Chair of the Art Department at the University of New Mexico – Taos.
That Old Witch
Baba Yaga, the crone/witch of Russian folklore, has a complicated and evolving history. While historically described as evil and vindictive, her narrative is more complex. Baba Yaga represents the wisdom of the old woman, comeuppance for those who bring hubris upon themselves, and taking the entitled down a peg or two. Our scent and visual piece evokes slavic folklore, encouraging visitors to get close enough to open small boxes and experience scents inspired by the Russian tale “Baba Yaga & Vasilissa”- such as the three horsemen (dawn, dusk, and midnight), the Russian forest in winter, and the scent of the vengeance she enacts upon the selfish and greedy.
This piece uses microcontrollers, programmed illumination, custom designed scents, and decorated wooden boxes connected to the mythology of Baba Yaga. Visitors are encouraged to take away the illustrated cards detailing the inspiration for the scents for the six sections of the story
Miriam Langer is a professor of Media Arts & Chair of the Department of Media Arts & Technology at New Mexico Highlands University, where she teaches physical computing and exhibit design. She is the co-director of the Center for Cultural Technology – a partnership between NMHU and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and runs the PICT (Program in Cultural Technology) project, whose most recent project was a redesign of the Jemez Historic Site Visitor Center in 2019.
French and American by upbringing, Cuban and English by blood, Saskia received her BA (fine art) from UC Berkeley and her MA (fine art) from Central Saint Martins. A producer and curator for visual art and film, Saskia co-directed the seminal Silver Lake Film Festival, ran international outreach and development for Al Gore’s Current TV, and has consulted on a number of arts, film and transmedia projects including the P2P distribution platform VODO, DIY Days, TEDActive and Slamdance Film Festical. In 2012, her interest in unorthodox practices led her to create The Institute for Art and Olfaction, a non-profit arts organization devoted to experimentation, access, and education in perfumery. Through the IAO, she has launched partnerships or programs with institutions such as Goethe Institut, Hammer Museum, Getty Institute, Danish Film Institute, Standard Hotel, Atlas Obscura, National Media Museum UK, Huntington Library, Wallace Collection, Silent Green Kulturquartier, Watts Gallery, LACMA, and many more. In 2013, she launched the Art and Olfaction Awards, an awards mechanism for independent, artisan and experimental perfumers, which she has produced in Los Angeles, Berlin, London and Amsterdam. In addition to countless art installations and events, she has also produced large public-facing experimental programs relating to olfaction including the Biennial Scent Fair LA (with Darin Klein) and the annual Experimental Scent Summit (with Klara Ravat). Current projects include a multi-year exploration of open source strategies in scent-making, building and maintaining a perfume garden servicing the Bell Homeless Shelter in Los Angeles in partnership with GrowGood, and an upcoming feature documentary about a relaunch of a historic perfume. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and London, where she is a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art.
Words toward Fern Seiden’s art:
A Fern Seiden image pulls at you from an otherworldly place. No scene or artifact or subject is
delivered untransformed; no image is merely straightforward. Perception is meditated in
ingenious ways such that past and present more often become simultaneous rather than
sequential in a landscape – which might be an actual landscape, or a domestic interior, or
something that occurs in a domain extrinsic to literal place. Distortion is so brilliantly and lovingly
administered that it becomes, paradoxically, a vehicle of authenticity. The solidity of any entity is
bartered for its evanescence, ultimately yielding a more multivalent presence that resonates
across the picture plane, as well as all the space implied therein, including that of memory.
Control Panels is a series of wall-mounted sculptures that represent unquantifiable human emotions in physical interfaces.
All of the work that I have made as an artist comes with a sincere fascination with how perception, experience, and the acquisition of knowledge are changed by the intervention of technology. To show how radical these technologically induced perceptual changes can be, I make works that slow down, invert, or create a malfunction in the viewer’s experience of technology itself. The result is an unexpected perceptual space for thinking about technologically mediated experience, at a decidedly human speed.
Visual and media artist Daniel Jolliffe’s work traverses many disciplines and interests including sculpture, installation, sound, public intervention, performance, interactive art, video, and open-source culture. The goal of his artistic practice is to challenge and query how embodied conscious experience is changed by the intervention of technology.
His artwork has been shown across Canada and internationally, and been covered by Wired News, the Dow Jones News Wire, Rhizome and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, among others. He holds a B.A in Philosophy from the University of Victoria and an M.F.A in Art and Technology from the Ohio State University.