The word, A P A R T, relating to the world today
I've seen the word "apart" so many times lately dealing with social distancing and the COVID-19 situation. It's giving me flashbacks to my MFA show in 2013, entitled A P A R T.
Frankly, pandemics were not my subject matter but the concept still applies. My thesis show, A P A R T was a foil, not to tell people what to do but to remind them how difficult it can be to recognize your role in a system.
As an interactive element in A P A R T, I utilized a wall in the gallery to create a physical barrier. On one side of the wall I placed a pressure sensitive plate under a designated viewing mat. It was connected with wires that ran through the dirt channels to my sculpture on the other side of the wall. The channels helped guide the viewers through the installation. When the viewer followed the channels it led them behind the wall and if they stepped on the "x marks the spot" mat it activated lights in my sculpture.
It was impossible for the viewer stepping on the mat to see the impact they made on the other side of the wall unless there was more than one person in the gallery. There was usually a reaction from the viewers when they saw the sculpture light up and a conversation between those in the gallery would start. How does this work? Most people came into the gallery and looked at the work solo, so they never witnessed the activation of the installation. Many others thought the sculptures were motion activated and would wave at the sculptures from a foot away, ducking and bobbing side to side. It was a game of interaction, a puzzle to be solved. I wish to this day that I had video of people's reactions while walking through the installation.
Today, I think about this show and the word apart. "Apart" means to be separated from, while "a part" means to be connected to someone or something. Just a little bit of spacing between the same letters changes its meaning entirely. It's the reason I chose these letters and its spacing for my show's title.
It's very hard to understand and fully see the role that we play in the systems around us. If there is any silver lining from the social distancing and pandemic of Covid-19, I hope it is that we recognize that, apart, we are individuals dealing with hard times but also we are a part of a world that connects is so many ways. Seeing those connections can be overwhelming but it can also help be a way that people get through these hard times.
See more images from the show here,