Art Exhibit: Claudia Osteen & Aly Ogasian
Opening Reception Sat Nov 2 @ 5 – 8 pm
with music by pianist Rob Montecalvo
Exhibit up through Nov. 17
Gallery hours: Thur & Fri: 2pm – 6pm, Sat & Sun: 11am – 3pm
O’Steen + Ogasian present their collaborative body of work, Farthest North. Farthest North is inspired by their obsession with 19th century Swedish engineer and aerial photographer S.A. Andrée’s catastrophic attempt to fly to the North Pole in a silk hydrogen balloon. Andrée’s journey was derailed within moments of taking to air when his drag ropes – his poorly conceived method of steering the craft – simultaneously came undone, leaving him with little means to control the balloon. Their remains were found 33 years later, the cause of their deaths unknown. Amongst the remains were several canisters of exposed film and the crew’s diaries, preserved in the snow. Over 100 years later, O’Steen and Ogasian traveled to the site of Andrée’s departure, tracing the explorer’s fateful voyage into the unknown. The resulting installation presents the profound psychological effect of traversing one of the most rarefied places on earth in the footprints of a failed explorer. Farthest North synthesizes artistic inquiry with field-research practices, incorporating sculpture, direct observation drawings, data collection, field notes, audio recordings, and written as well as video journals. The installation itself creates an overlay of the voyage of the artists with that of Andrée, using data and observations collected by both, in addition to contemporary fieldwork of the same location completed by an aerospace archaeologist, creating a portrait of a rapidly changing landscape as it has appeared in 1897, 1980, and 2016. The artists constructed daily rituals for observing the landscape, attempting to mix paint to match the water color and sky, and to understand their geographic position by surveying the coastline in relation to Andrée’s logbooks and journals. Rocks were also collected on site and labeled using the sky color and drawn in order to more intimately understand the landscape. Their journal entries detail feelings of disorientation and an inability to root their experience in the concrete. Sculptural components house video and audio documentation that detail the artists’ voyage, marking points of significance using the language of marine navigation. A cairn houses a video tracing the artists from the high Arctic to Iceland in an attempt to locate the place where the expedition’s buoy washed ashore, carrying a ghostly message from Andée’s crew. The Physical Geography of the Sea contains artifacts from the artists’ journey, detailing their travels from the gulf of Florida to the high arctic, where the gulf stream culminates. At times video taken by the artists on location is spliced together and projected with archival photographs, or drawings are overlaid with images or text. These juxtapositions draw parallels between the observations and intentions of the artist, the explorer, the scientist, the pragmatist and the romantic, allowing for moments when lines are blurred and distinctions are hazy at best. By over-laying histories, the artists allow viewers to traverse time and space and to project their imagination forward into a rapidly disappearing territory, pointing to the Arctic landscape as part of a dynamic and interconnected system that we all inhabit.
O’Steen and Ogasian attempt to re-orient themselves in a contemporary world dominated by data and technology, where the romantic and adventurous spirit of discovery has been lost or forgotten. They are interested in the moments where science and technology give rise to the nebulous, the enigmatic, the mysterious — where the primary goal is to “make sense” rather than to objectively know. They mix the romantic ideals of exploration with the promise of scientific discovery, believing neither to be absolute. Technology is inherently part of the process of exploring, allowing the artists to extend their bodies, senses, and thoughts across great distances whether deep within or far away. Within this context, wonder connects to an instance of “new knowing”, a re-encountering of familiar terrain. Their work is inherently performative, casting the artists in the role of explorer or knowledge seeker within scenarios that are at once deeply absurd and poetic. The glitches or errors that occur within the process are celebrated not only as deviations from the intended path, but as potential points of departure for the imagination. Through a repetitive and obsessive methodology they reveal patterns and flaws. they develop languages to convey distance, scale, and direction. Through a robust research practice they develop systems that fuse historic, contemporary, and imagined versions of marine navigation, surveying, astronomy, geology, and cartography. They use sculpture as a tool for observation and perception, creating instruments and devices to interrogate the landscape around us. They produce artifacts that reveal evidence of performance and exploit unexpected moments to enrich each narrative. The experience of being lost is established as a means to understanding the process of exploration itself. Within each installation, a two-dimensional image becomes three-dimensional, an object shifts to image, material to information, digital to analog. By illuminating the ‘history’ of each element in relation to the installation as a whole, each component – drawing, projection, sculpture – functions as a single point in a larger constellation. They have been awarded collaborative residencies at Rural Projects, The Wassaic Project, Montalvo Arts Center, The Arctic Circle, and The National Centre for Contemporary Art St. Petersburg, Russia, and have exhibited both nationally and internationally at venues such as The Russian State Arctic and Antarctic Museum apexart, Flux Factory, Watkins College of Art, Design + Film, University of New Hampshire and Ohio State University. Claudia received a BFA from Watkins College of Art Design & Film and an MFA in Digital + Media at Rhode Island School of Design. She currently resides in Charlotte, NC and is an Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Winthrop University. Aly received a BFA from Queen’s University and a MFA in Digital + Media at Rhode Island School of Design. She is based in Providence Rhode Island and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Experimental & Foundation Studies at Rhode Island School of Design.