Chen Carmi, an artist who exhibits regularly at the Max L. Gatov Gallery, presents the audience with a video comprised of various clips of seagulls, as they interact with each other in a public settings.
The video begs the question: Why? Why seagulls? Why does the artist care and why should I, the viewer, care? In thinking about this work many ideas have unfolded from the experience. I’m interested in the intent of the artist and the reception of the audience. The work is not shocking or offensive it’s peaceful yet there are moments of chaos within the social structure of these birds. I felt that the birds are a portrayal of what we really are inside, the animal in us that just squawks and bites and reacts to any thing. These thoughts lead me to ask, why don’t we act like the seagulls? This video, I presume, is a latent gesture of the yearning for free expression. It captures a specific, focused position of the artist as she views these creatures. The actors, the birds, sometimes play their character as expected yet there are moments when they seem almost human in their indignation and struggle to survive. As I watch these films I feel as though I can relate to these birds. The only difference between the two species is that humans are often taught to mask their struggles, where as the main characters in the film appear to be open and pure.
Far from scenic, the background portrayed is quite banal, but taken out of context, with the focus changed from humans to foul, it becomes unexpectedly peculiar. The viewer can sense the vulnerability of the actors as well as the artist herself. The voices of the birds and the voice of the artist are small and quiet. They could be easily overlooked because they do not demand the attention that society requires for survival and there is certain kind of poetry in that. Poetry in the mundane, in the quiet moments of natural expression and thought. The artist has captured a view that few have the insight to see and appreciate.
The work, with its subtlety and slow-pace, requires patience to be understood. Having had experienced this filled me with a sense of honesty. I feel the sincerity of my own thoughts as well as those of Carmi and her subjects. There is a satisfaction that comes with the banality, it is not depressing nor is it overly confident and hopeful. It just is. And it’s good.