Gallery 400 Blog

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From Mother Earth to Outer Space

I took away a wonderful new feeling from Ghost Nature. The show closed last week, but left me a reminder that there still is mystery in life. Our society puts such status in science and technology, but we still cannot speak plainly with other animals on this earth. I can only commune so much with an entity that does not speak my language. All of myself is projected into how I understand or interpret the reaction or inaction of that entity/being. Ghost Nature resonated with that aura and mystery of the natural world, the world that I think we take for granted or think we can explain away the “real” purpose of its existence. Do we ever really know?

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Image: Ghost Nature (installation view), 2014. 

I am currently working in a collective of theatre makers called Show Party. Our next performance/installation is exploring the themes in the book Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. Our normal structure for working up to a show involves individuals leading a class on topics they are interested in as a way to generate new material. Solaris is a short book about space exploration. Lem is really asking the question: why are we exploring space and the unknown when there is so much we still do not know about our minds and ourselves? On the planet Solaris, there is a large black ocean. Humans have discovered that it follows no rules of physics and no communication has been made. There are hundreds of years of theory on why the ocean exists or what its purpose is, and all the theories are from humans projecting human logic onto something that is not human.

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Image: Ghost Nature (installation view), 2014. 

We are going to perform our loose adaptation of Solaris in a one-bedroom apartment. The idea is to transform a familiar space into something that is uncanny or otherworldly, while still being aware that it is a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago. My friend, Kate, used the term she heard from Julie Taymor: “rough magic.” Our group has a large amount of influence from The Neo-Futurist’s aesthetic. There is no fourth wall. There are no characters. You are always yourself. Those guidelines alone help keep us honest, striving NOT to trick or fool anyone. I am excited to start this next project in conjuring “rough magic.” I think Ghost Nature was really a gateway for me to see this new way of looking at the world around me. It will definitely be on my mind as Show Party moves forward with Solaris.

by Christy Harrison Frei, currently the archive intern at Gallery 400.