Citadel's Summerall Guards part of first video exhibit at Gibbes
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Polar bears engage in synchronized swimming, The Citadel's Summerall Guards drill team executes perfect pivots, and a blind champion equestrian says, 'I've seen things you wouldn't believe. All those moments lost in time like tears in rain.'
These images explode through 'Like Tears in Rain,' the first video installation at the Gibbes Museum of Art.
The work was created by video artist, sculptor, glassblower and equestrian instructor Janet Biggs of New York.
'I was doing research for my video regarding what happens when the individual, by choice, gives himself or herself over to the good of the whole; that was when I came across the Summerall Guard so well-known for its smooth precision,' says Biggs, who is intrigued by any type of precision or synchronized movement, and by the choices people make.
The six-minute video, with two components and sound, is being shown in the museum's rotunda through Aug. 12.
When she saw the reference to the Summerall Guards, Biggs had never been to Charleston. But she knew Todd Smith, executive director of the Gibbes, whom she had met years ago when he was working with the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, N.D.
'When I called Todd and asked him about the Summerall Guard, he was so helpful. He introduced me to people at The Citadel and facilitated the entire taping,' says Biggs.
Smith, who is in his second year at the museum, says, 'The Gibbes is an institution equally devoted to collecting the art of our past and promoting the art of our time, so it was only fitting that we embrace new work that utilizes new media. The icing on the cake for this acquisition is the inextricable connection that this work has with the historical legacy of The Citadel.'
The Citadel cadets, the captive polar bears swimming repetitively in their pool at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo and equestrian Anne-Greta Schricker all represent different states of choices in life, explains Biggs.
'There is free choice in the case of the cadets, limited choice in the case of Anne-Greta, who is blind, and no choice in the case of the bears,' she says.
'At the zoo, I was fascinated by the bears, whom I could see from the underwater viewing room, and they looked so graceful,' says the artist. 'But then, even though I knew they were well-cared for, I started seeing their swimming as both beautiful and sad because they would never know the pleasures of the wild.'
The artist drew the video's title from a line in the 1982 movie 'Blade Runner,' based on the book 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' by Philip K. Dick.
'In the book, Philip mentions three characteristics that clarify being human: how we construct our memories, empathy for others and a connection to animals,' says Biggs. 'I took the title from a line uttered by one of the actors in ‘Blade Runner' who is on a roof about to die: ‘All those moments lost in time, like tears in rain.' '
Reach Dottie Ashley at 937-5704 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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