BIODOME: An Experiment in Diversity
In 2007 the City of Boulder initiated its Community Dialogue as an opportunity for residents to express their experiences and thoughts about life in Boulder. The published findings from this study indicated that those who participated value what is an outdoor, active lifestyle in a spectacular natural environment that they want to preserve and protect. At the same time, they worry that Boulder is becoming an elitist community, intolerant of those who are different and with no room for people of modest or middle class means. Some of the reasons identified by the participants for the lack of diversity in Boulder were:
- the high and escalating cost of living, particularly the cost of housing
- the lack of jobs available
- an unwelcoming environment and lack of acceptance of people of color
- an increasingly exclusive and elitist social atmosphere, creating an economically and socially divided community.
Taking these findings as a starting point, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art invited a group of artists to address the concerns and hopes expressed by the community through a number of initiatives that would give visual representation to the way Boulder residents experience diversity. Initially, the artists will spend two weeks in residency in Boulder to conduct research and collect ideas for their respective projects. Returning to their studios with the collected impressions, they will have time to process and develop their projects, which will culminate in an exhibition at BMoCA from June 23 through September 11, 2011.
The invited artists bring a diverse set of backgrounds and life experiences to the project they are encouraged to draw upon when setting to work in Boulder. Their unique points of view and distinct art making practices can be expected to introduce unexpected nuances to their interpretations and suggested solutions.
Gustavo Artigas was born in 1970 in Mexico City, where he lives and works. He studied at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico City between 1991 and 1995. In 1996, he won the II Installation Competition organized by the Ex-Teresa Arte Actual gallery and was offered a residency at Project at Johannesburg, South Africa in 2001. Artigas’ work has been shown as part of the exhibition Faites vos jeux! Art and Game Since Dada at Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz Liechtenstein and at the Akademie der Kunst, Berlin, Germany (2005-6); at international 04, Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, United Kingdom (2004); and at OUTLOOK 2003 Arena, Society for the Advancement of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece, among others.
In his recent work, Artigas develops game interfaces that invite spectators or specific groups to interact within a given framework, addressing human behavior and social tension in extreme or unusual circumstances. For his project The Rules of the Game, originally performed along the border between San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico in 2000, he documented the activities at a “frontón” ball court built against the Mexican side of the border and invited two Mexican soccer teams and two American basketball teams to play against each other—all at the same time on the same court. The resulting negotiation of terrain and adjusting of rules, as well as the behavior of spectators and players were intended as a visual representation of the possibilities and challenges of co-existence.
Seth Wulsin was born in 1981 in Spring Valley, New York. He studied Drawing and Painting at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City (1998). He briefly studied Literature and Philosophy at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (2001), as well as Religion and Politics at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island (2005). Between 2005 and 2009 he lived and worked in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since 2009, he is based in Bogota, Colombia and Brooklyn, New York. He is a member of the art collectives Artistas en Latinoamerica, and Wubacawi, and is currently a studio fellow at Smack Mellon, New York. His work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions at DUMBO Arts Festival 2010, Brooklyn, NY; ArteBA 2010, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and at Casa Tres Patios, Medellín, Colombia (2008).
In 2006 he gained international attention for his public artwork and intervention, 16 Tons, which documented the demolition of the infamous Caseros prison in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Wulsin shaped pixilated portraits by hammering out glass tiles from the façade of the notorious building, creating a temporary monument to those who had disappeared behind its walls, as the building was disassembled story by story.
Laleh Mehran & Christopher Coleman
As the progeny of Iranian scientists, Laleh Mehran’s relationship to religion, science, and politics is necessarily complex, and is still more so now given a political climate in which certain views are increasingly suspect. Inevitably, her work is as veiled as it is explicit, as personal as it is political, and as critical as it is tolerant. Mehran received her MFA in Electronic Time-Based Media from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittburgh, Pennsylvania. Her work has been shown individually and as part of art collectives at the Next 5 Minutes 4 Tactical Media Festival in Amsterdam, Holland; the European Media Arts Festival in Osnabrück, Germany; Ponte Futura in Cortona, Italy; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, Athens; and at the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mehran is Associate Professor and Graduate Director of the Electronic Media Arts & Design program at the University of Denver.
Chris Coleman received his BFA in his native state from West Virginia University in 2001 and his MFA from New York State University at Buffalo in 2003. A number of his undergraduate years were devoted to studying Mechanical Engineering, knowledge that he brings to bear in his installations. His work includes sculptures, performances, and videos as well as interactive installations. He has exhibited across Europe, Asia, and the US, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Spaces Gallery, Cleveland, OH; and FILE Sao Paulo, Brazil. Recently Coleman’s work was featured on several giant monitors in Times Square in New York City as the Grand Prize winner of the Babelgum Metropolis Art Prize 2009. He is Assistant Professor in the department of Media, Film & Journalism Studies at the University of Denver.
 City of Boulder, Community Dialogue, Meetings-in-a-Box, Summary Report, January 2008