Activating One Billion Breaths in a Lifetime

Today’s guest blog is from artist Jill O’Bryan, who shot this video shortly after installing her work one billion breaths in a lifetime outside of the Phillips.

The sculpture is of polished chrome, at eye level, and close to the sidewalk so that as you walk by your reflection moves and so does that of the environment with relation to you. The light there is really active because it’s filtered through the foliage, so sometimes parts of the text disappear and then reappear. Your movements animate this text about corporeal motion, embodiment, and time.

 

Jill O’Bryan, artist

Spotlight on Intersections@5: Bernhard Hildebrandt

The Phillips celebrates the fifth anniversary of its Intersections contemporary art series with Intersections@5, an exhibition comprising work by 20 of the participating artists. In this blog series, each artist writes about his or her work on view.

Hildebrandt_Peter 4

Bernhard Hildebrandt, Peter-4, 2013. Archival inkjet mounted on Dibond, 45 x 80 in. Courtesy of the artist

The camera sees differently than the eye. This distinction is paramount and has long prompted reflection on visual perception as a way of making sense of the world. At the same time, critical writing on contemporary art has sought to map out the various ways that painting, photography, and film serve as a conceptual and often controversial source for one another.

My project examines what I identify as the “kinetic aura” of the Baroque canon. In particular, it investigates the idea of unfolding time through the mediums of photography and video. The work reveals some well-known effects of Baroque art by drawing some as yet unexplored parallels to film making.

Key Baroque themes are considered in a series of images and video looking at illusion and movement. Through analogy with contemporary photographic and cinematic perception, El Greco’s The Repentant St. Peter, can be made to reveal aspects that transcend its own time. His works are inherently imbued with spatial movement, high drama, spectacle and visceral appeal that lend themselves directly to the cinematographic.

Through this lens, El Greco’s The Repentant St. Peter is re-imagined as the repenting St. Peter. We see him actively engaged in his spiritual transmutation.

Bernhard Hildebrandt

Spotlight on Intersections@5: Barbara Liotta

Liotta_Crenae

Barbara Liotta, Crenae, 2014. Lift cord and Italian marble, 120 x 13 1/2 x 4 in. Gift of the artist, 2014. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

The Phillips celebrates the fifth anniversary of its Intersections contemporary art series with Intersections@5, an exhibition comprising work by 20 of the participating artists. In this blog series, each artist writes about his or her work on view.

The Phillips Crenae relies on the balance among its three elements—the formal parallels of the suspending cord, the violence of the shattered marble, and the cascade of cord below. The upper cords breathe but remain plumb, the stone holds the raw energy of the piece, and the cords below bring in grace, lyricism, and chaos. The sculpture is designed to exist in conversation with the space in which it is displayed – it can hang long from high up, or lower so that the cords pool out across the floor.

The strict restraints I apply to my materials are essential. By limiting my materials to the cord and the stone, the work is able to sing out clearly and directly, unencumbered by decoration. Suspension and the promise of movement are fundamental to the piece.

The Crenae were water nymphs, each with her own spring. My piece is not an individual story, but a paradigm, a portrayal of an ideal; it refers to a human archetype rather than a specific story. I strive for a sort of essence: a clarity that will allow the work grace but not prettiness; rhythm but not contrivance; balance but not stiffness. It will animate, as well as inhabit, its space. The work should be as clear as chamber music and as graceful as a dance.

Barbara Liotta