Conversations is an ongoing series that features a substantive body of work by a local artist alongside works by an artist based on another point on the globe. For Conversation 6, local multimedia artist Jason Hanasik and Dutch installation artist Berndnaut Smilde contribute works that dwell on concepts such as transition, ephemerality, dislocation and documentation. This thematic through line is especially poignant considering that the SFAC Galleries’ primary exhibition space in the War Memorial Veterans Building will be dislocated from May 2013 to June 2015 due to seismic retrofitting. When the SFAC Main Gallery opens its doors in the Veterans Building again, it will occupy a new 4000-sq-ft gallery with expanded exhibition, programing and office space as well as a small retail store.
Jason Hanasik’s new installation for Conversation 6 revolves around the recent loss of his family’s home to foreclosure. At the center of the installation, is a home video of the family, with Hanasik as a child, walking around the beautiful site where their future home will be built. The hope and anticipation is palpable. The video is sited within a structure resembling the frame of a house that will be surrounded by projections of the site. The inevitability of losing the family home coupled with other misfortunes in 2010 profoundly changed the artist. Hanasik says, “As I slowly emerged from a period of mourning into one of investigation and curiosity about all that had transpired in one year, I realized that my understanding of home, permanence and mortality had radically shifted and evolved.”
Amsterdam-based Berndnaut Smilde grew up fascinated by Dutch seascape paintings with their impressive skies. “My grandparents had one with really threatening looking clouds. I remember I was intrigued by the power of it. I couldn’t really grasp what it was, but there was something big, magical and dark about to happen in that painting. I wanted to create the idea of a typical Dutch rain cloud inside a space. I wanted to see if it could be done, exhibiting a cloud.” Smilde has successfully created clouds within historic structures throughout Europe. For Conversation 6 he will exhibit the documentation of one of his cloud installations as wallpaper. He will also show works from his recently completed series Until Askeaton, which highlights his manipulation of Google Earth to compare Askeaton, Scotland with Askeaton, Wisconsin.
Visitors to Conversation 6 will find themselves in an immersive environment in both installations. The scale of Smilde’s wallpaper of an architectural environment will take over the front Gallery, while Hanasik will invite viewers to literally step into his “house.” Although the SFAC Main Gallery has been in the War Memorial Veterans Building for over 16 years, it was intended to be a temporary location. As the public enters it for the last time we want them to think about the nature of temporality versus permanence, and start to look forward with us to our interim projects and new permanent home.
Conversation 6 exemplifies the mission of the SFAC Galleries to celebrate our local arts production and put it in dialogue with a broader contemporary arts landscape. We look forward to continuing the series in our new space in 2015.