Four artists, Anne Laprade Seuthe, Alicia Hunsicker, Deborah Garner, and Laura “Lola” Baltzell presented their project “Eye to Eye” to the Intrude: Art & Life 366 Interdisciplinary Art Exhibition at the Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China.
Their project addresses the concept of seeing “eye to eye” both individually and culturally to broaden understanding and respect of other points of view.
About Intrude Art & Life 366 and the Zendai MoMA
Zendai Museum of Modern Art invites you to Intrude: Art & Life 366 in Shanghai. Intrude: Art & Life 366 is an unprecedented event in the city of Shanghai. Starting January 1, 2008 and ending on December 31, 2008, Zendai MoMA will present a cultural event to the people of Shanghai every single day of the year. This cross-cultural and interdisciplinary project is called Intrude: Art & Life 366 and aims to intervene in people’s daily lives, engage them to take part in art happenings and stimulate the public debate on art. An event of this scale and influence has never taken place in China before. Curated by the director of the Zendai MoMA, Mr. Shen Qibin, Intrude: Art & Life 366 is a interdisciplinary project that connects culture and daily life in many forms and through different media. With a total of 366 events happening throughout the year, the events will be very diverse and will come from different cultural fields — exhibitions, site-specific installations, performances, concerts, film screenings, debates, etc. In order to present their work differently, artists will explore new concepts and venture out into the public sphere
Intrude: Art & Life 366 will present 366 different cultural events, taking place in public and private venues like parks, gardens, squares, shopping areas, etc. 100 Chinese and 266 international artists will participate, including local and internationally well-known artists and curators like Gu Wenda, Wang Jianwei, Yang Fudong, Xu Zhen, etc. There will also be collaborations with local and foreign institutions like the National Acadamy of Art in Hangzhou, the Centre for Contemporary Art & Politics, College of Fine Arts University of New South Wales in Australia, Institut pour la Ville-en-Mouvement in Paris etc.
Intrude: Art & Life 366 was created as a long-term project, continuing beyond the 366 days of events. All of the events will be methodically archived and will be presented in the future as international touring exhibitions. In addition, Zendai MoMA will regularly publish catalogues with scholarly essays on the projects and related ideas and issues, and magazines to inform people on the progress of the project.
ABOUT Zendai MoMA - Founded in 2005 and located in Pudong New Area in Shanghai, Zendai MoMA exhibits and collects innovative contemporary art from China and around the world. Zendai MoMA’s diverse program covers a broad spectrum of cultural activities, including film screenings, talks and educational events, theatre and music performances, and exhibiting visual and new media arts. The museum facilities include 4 galleries, a classroom, a gift shop/bookshop and a café. Covering 3000m2, and located in one of the fastest-developing areas of Shanghai, Zendai MoMA functions as a bridge between the local and international community, connecting both to the world of arts.
Eye to Eye project Summary
This project was created specifically with the intentions of Intrude 366 in mind and took place on Dec. 18, 2008 in Thumb Plaza in front of the Zendai Museum in Shanghai, China.
“Eye to Eye” is a North American expression that means two individuals (or groups) agree to acknowledge each other’s viewpoints. It is a courageous act to see “Eye to Eye”. It causes one to open oneself to the possibility of new thinking. It is a step towards standing on common ground and arriving at mutual understanding In this time of cross cultural exchange, it is more important than ever that this concept of seeing “Eye to Eye” be promoted.
For Intrude 366, four American artists using the simplest of means, and drawing on over 2000 years of Eastern and Western art history, will construct a strand comprised of 734 visual representations of eyes sourced from centuries of evolving culture. (366 on front and 366 on back) In “Eye to I”, we will use standard 4.25 inch long shipping tags as surfaces. Onto the front and backside of each tag’s surface we will print or paint image of eyes culled from the canons of art history: From anonymous portraits painted in 3rd century c.e. Central Asian cave paintings to the expressive eyes of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, to the stylized eyes of Warhol’s celebrities, and to the piercing eyes of Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits, each of the participating artists will select eye imagery, enlarge them to fit the each side of a standard tag and transfer them to the surfaces using traditional and non-traditional painting and printing techniques such as linoleum block prints and Xerox transfers. Strong visual impact and unity will be produced through the use of the standard surface and by maintaining a restricted palette of blacks, reds, and golds. Each tag will have one Eastern eye and one Western eye - adding another layer of the original concept of Eye to Eye. The resulting Eye to Eye strand will be held out at chest level with one of the participating artists holding the first tag at one end and a partner artist based in Shanghai holding the first tag at the other end. This will result in approximately meters of these historic images being exhibited. Once the entire strand is on display, pedestrians will be invited to cut a tag from either end.
As this performance takes place the three accompanying artists will be documenting the performance through video and photography and inviting the public to participate, facilitating the cutting away.
Each cut tag that people take away will serve as a talisman towards seeing eye to eye. With each tag that is cut, the two representatives from the East and the West will take one step closer to each other. When all 366 tags have been cut and given away, the two artists will stand firmly and confidently, physically and emotionally: Eye to Eye.
In Summary, the Eye to Eye project collapses the past with the future. It places us in the present to combine images that may be obscure with images that have saturated contemporary culture. Eye to Eye underscores the commonality between East and West.
Using the simplest of means, Eye to Eye offers profound possibility for forging a rich collaborative cultural vision for the future.
A few days before our project date we met with our contact person from the Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Liao Wenfeng, (assistant Curator) at one of the proposed project sites, Thumb Plaza. The plaza is directly in front of the museum. I was pleased that a huge statue of the Virgin Mary overlooks the plaza and took that as a sign we were in the right place to execute our project.
Photo of Deborah,
Wenfeng, and Alicia
by Anne Laprade
We were also taken on an adventure with Nadia from the Museum through the Shanghai Subway and a cab ride to find another project site in a park across the city (don't ask me where!) I was totally turned around when we arrived.
This project “Eye to Eye” is about seeing and being seen… about how we see ourselves and how we see the “other”. At a deeper level, it is also about perception and subsequent impressions that are formed.
We selected eyes from works of art created by Western and Eastern artists throughout art history and pop culture to represent these distinctive viewpoints. When strung in the project we will have them tied together facing each other, not as confrontation but as an invitation to look at another’s point of view and attempt to find common ground.
I enjoyed perusing books to source eyes for this work and I chose to work with a sketch book and pencil to record these images as simple line drawings. I then carved these sketches in various materials from raw potato to linoleum block to create the printed images that follow.
In these examples my Eastern references were various Central Asian cave paintings from Khotan , Japanese woodblock prints and the eyes atop Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu. Western were sourced from several Picasso sculptures, and two woodcut portraits by Albrecht Durer.
The technique I have employed in making my images so far has started with a line drawing of the source material and then to painting with brush and acrylic. I am enjoying the process but feel like the strait painting may be taking too much time for each image (approx 1 hour each). I may need to employ other methods that are faster as we move closer to our deadline. In the meantime I am having fun with it.
Yesterday, I considered the work of Spanish artist Joan Miro as I painted my eye tag components. I referenced his painting Nursery Decoration (1938). It is from his disturbed monster period although it is said that he treats his creatures with affection. I chose the eyes of the boy (?) For their graphic quality and because the palette matched the colors we are using for this project.