UVP sites are paving the way for others around the world, claimed Light Work’s executive director Jeffrey Hoone. Light Work is a Syracuse University entity that exhibits art, mostly photography, and holds classes for students and residents alike. Like Light Work, UVP provides an opportunity for the entire Syracuse community to showcase their work at various locations downtown.
While most other venues around the world project work sporadically or with commercial interruptions, all three UVP sites run commercial free, Thursdays to Sundays, from dusk to 11 p.m. The art will be displayed on three Connective Corridor buildings: the Onondaga Historical Association, 321 Montgomery St.; Syracuse Stage, 820 E. Genesee St.; and the Monroe Building, 333 E. Onondaga St.
Each month, Light Work will bring in curators, both local and international, to choose exhibitions and installations. The first team selected by Hoone was a natural choice: Emily Duke and Cooper Battersby are renowned video artists who are connected to the bigger universe of video art, Hoone said.
Duke and Battersby are both assistant professors in the Transmedia Department in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at SU. Their work has been exhibited in galleries and at festivals in North and South America and throughout Europe. The two have been working collaboratively since 1994, winning prizes nationally and internationally.
“Syracuse has a vibrant history around video art,” Duke said, “and this is a really exciting way to expand that visual culture in Syracuse.”
Syracuse is also home to the widely known champion of contemporary art, David Ross, who began his career as the world’s first video curator at the Everson Museum of Art. Hoone and Ross have worked closely on projects in the past and with the re-launch of the UVP, Hoone hopes to bring Syracuse back to its video art roots. “Jeff is famous for being able to resuscitate and generate energy,” Duke said.
For both the OHA and Monroe sites, Duke and Battersby chose installations by Vancouver, British Columbia-based artist Althea Thauberger, who works in photography, film, video and performance. Presumably, the Winter Olympics didn’t influence the choice. Furthermore, they chose pieces to accompany each site’s individual history as well as Syracuse’s infamous weather. “This time of year, it is important to find works that communicate quickly,” Battersby said, “and Thauberger’s pieces do that.”
Thauberger’s work considers issues of self-definition, alienation, community and coercion within the natural world. Her piece “Not Afraid to Die” depicts a Gore-Tex clad girl, waiting and snacking as birds, airplanes and the a cappella “voice of God,” sung by the artist, emanates from the site’s directional sound system. This system is able to project sound to a passerby on the sidewalk without disturbing those occupying neighboring buildings.
Those who pass by the Syracuse Stage site should pay attention to the stunning LED screen, the largest of the UVP sites. The 300-square-foot curtain, using 16,000 individual light bulbs, features artist Nathaniel Sullivan’s “On the Way to the Theatre we Egged a Trans-Am,” a piece that suggests there are consequences to taking one’s pleasures liberally.
“The piece deals with coming of age and the pains of growing up,” Hoone said. “Syracuse Stage was the perfect choice to project these themes.”
The pieces chosen by Duke and Battersby are relatively slow and short in duration, but visually stunning. “It’s not like watching a movie,” Hoone noted. The pieces are meant to grab the viewers’ attention, awaken them to new ideas, and leave them with something to talk about, all before frostbite sets in.
The UVP sites will be running year-round and Hoone hopes to bring lectures, events and discussions to each location when the weather permits. Until then, downtowners can enjoy Thauberger’s pieces through Feb. 28 and Sullivan’s through the end of March. And then look for new installations as spring unfolds.