Earlier this year, Mike Brenner unveiled his own happy utopia: a huge Walker’s Point warehouse dedicated to his two lifelong loves of beer and art. Yes, the newly opened Brenner Brewing also houses The Pitch Project, Brenner’s side-venture dedicated to over 20 studio spaces and a full contemporary art gallery.
This Saturday, the gallery will be flush with moving images as Performing For Cyclops, a video-art group exhibition combining the works of five internationally known artists, opens as the third show in the space. From full-scale projections to small-screened films, the works of Jonathan Gitelson, William Lamson, Julie Lequin, Mary Mattingly, and Kambui Olujimi will utilize video and performance to reveal a variety of artistic sensibilities. All five are dedicated to the art of documentary performance, but despite the continuity of medium, the resulting works vary dramatically—from the playful to the commanding, from sporadic snippets to long repetitive shots.
Lamson plays with uncontrollable physical and natural elements in an attempt to document and test his own, as well as the viewer’s, systems of knowledge and belief. Meanwhile, Gitelson pokes fun at his own idiosyncrasies and uses the camera to record the often mundane and repetitive intimacies of daily life. In doing so, he begs viewers to consider and question the purpose of photography in the modern world. Lequin, a French Canadian artist, consciously muddles personal truth with fictional fantasy, using performance to play out real-life events under the guise of a humor-entrenched outside point of view. In doing this, her work gives the viewer a personal glimpse into her own creative process.
“All of the artists in the show have an element of obsessiveness and rigor in their practice,” says Sonja Thomsen, co-director of The Pitch Project. “From a stop-motion animation of a figurine in collaged sets in Kambui’s ‘Not Now Nor Then,’ to the collection, research of origins, and binding of all of her personal belongings in Mary Mattingly’s ‘Proposals.’ All of the artists take on the existential with a sense of play in their performances.”
Performing For Cyclops demonstrates the gallery’s dedication to both making the works of internationally renowned artists accessible, but also to curating shows that facilitate conversations on the direction of contemporary art both locally and nationally. “The group-show developed as each co-director proposed artists who work with video and create a performance for the camera,“ explains Thomsen.
Similar to the gallery’s two previous shows (which included a wall-size wheat paste mural and a collaborative effort to make 24 feature-length looping music videos), Performing For Cyclops focuses on yet another lesser-seen medium in contemporary art. “We hope that this is a fun summer exhibition. Many of the works have a playful first read, but the works’ depth reveals itself with time,” says Thomsen. “It’s much about endurance—in making and viewing—so we hope that people come back throughout this three-month show to see all of the works in their entirety.”
Performing For Cyclops opens Saturday, July 12 from 5-9 p.m. at The Pitch Project, 706 S. 5th Street. The show runs through October 12, 2014.