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Webster adjunct professor curates video art gallery
Headphones cover the floor of the Arcade Art Gallery at Webster’s Gateway campus. A compressed version of the Dire Straits song “Walk of Life” comes out of the headphones at the end of the exhibit
“Walk of Life” the title of the piece, is a part of the electronic art show See and Wait at the university’s art gallery downtown. The show is a collection of electronic audio and visual media that aims to critique and make sense of the media-driven world. The show started on Feb. 9 and runs through April 9.
For artist Marianne Laury, the art installation tells the story of her life. The boombox, TV monitor and music itself represents the different stages in her life. The music playing through the headphones at the end show how we compress as we get older . She considers “Walk of Life” a work in progress.
“That’s the boombox I would make mixtapes on in high school,” Laury said. “It’s like each thing in there is something that I’ve had with me for awhile and it’s a kind of cool to figure out a way to make them all connect together.”
Laury is the curator and director of programs at the Granite City Art and Design District in Granite City, Illinois and works closely with St. Louis art galleries. She has worked with artists for more than three years curating art from local artists as an initiative to revitalize the metro area.
Last year, Laury featured the work of Webster graduate Martin Lang at her gallery. Lang curated See and Wait and got to know Laury and her work. “Walk of Life” was exactly what Lang wanted for his Webster show.
“This show is an interesting opportunity to show work that I really enjoy at a space and institution that I care about,” Lang said.
Lang is an adjunct professor at Lindenwood University St. Charles and Webster, where he graduated in 2013 with a BFA in photography. He teaches foundational art classes and classes dealing primarily with the art of video.
“It is a medium that allows for a lot of things to happen,” Lang said. “Appropriating things pulled directly from culture and also adding in things like the tropes of performative aspects.”
For Lang, video is not about just acting and photography. He said the curation is about how we communicate, how we’re communicated at and how we wish we could communicate.
He mentioned that while video is an effective and engaging medium for artists, it can be difficult to attract attention from the viewers.
“My favorite critique I got in grad school was that working with video is tyrannical,” Lang said. “It just takes and demands so much time.”
Lang’s solution to this was providing a comfortable environment for the work he curated. He asked each artist how the viewer will fit into the gallery and consider their work. One video at See and Wait is almost eleven minutes long. For that installation, Lang set up a green mattress so one can relax and enjoy the art.
Many of his friends and colleagues had video art that he wanted to show off at Webster Gateway. One that he believed catches attention is “The candles aren’t the only ones that get lit on Friday nights” by visual artist Naomi Moser.
“I thought it was challenging, funny and uncomfortable,” Lang said. “It makes me laugh and maybe feel bad about laughing.”
Moser’s work has been exhibited in galleries around the world. She plays with themes of her Jewish heritage. Her work usually set on scenes about dress up, nightlife and travelling incorporating fluorescent color schemes.
“The work discusses the processes of hiding, losing and finding Jewish identity,” Moser said, “With these ideas in mind this piece questions, critiques and justifies why and how I try on identity.”
Moser’s work in this exhibition is about a Jewish girl who goes out to a nightclub. It acts as a religious critique as well as a introspective look at her anxiety. Lang said Mosers work is exactly what he looks for in a video artist.
Lang said there were some challenges in the physical production of the gallery. He said it was hard to contend with more windows than walls in such a small space but made it work.
After the installation he was happy to see how all the hard work paid off. He was reminded why he wanted to this show after watching the videos again after the projectors were set up and temporary walls were put in place.
“I really love and believe in all of this work and this is a great show,” Lang said. “That’s the exciting part actually being able to show work that I really believe in.”