In her video, Dutch artist Mathilde ter Heijne throws an effigy of herself over a bridge as a symbol of empowerment through staged suicide. In another video, a naked and bleeding man covered in greasepaint walks down a runway.
These videos and others are part of this week’s campuswide exhibition, “I Am the Medium.” The videos, which are staged, all center on the theme of the human body as a canvas. Some pieces also deal with dark themes like self-mutilation, humiliation and martyrdom.
The exhibition, scattered across UCSB, stretches from the Student Resource Building to the opposite end of campus. The various art presentations were strategically placed to encourage students of all majors and interests to view the exhibition.
Co-curators of “I Am the Medium,” history of art and architecture graduate students Mary McGuire and Noa Turel said they desired diverse groups of students to see and experience the pieces.
“The exhibition is nice because it is spread all around campus,” McGuire said. “Many different kinds of people are exposed to the art. We don’t want to preach to the choir. We want engineering students to have the same access to the event as humanities students do.”
With the exception of Gillian Wearing’s “Self Portrait As My Grandmother Nancy Gregory” and “Self Portrait as My Grandfather George Gregory,” the art pieces are mostly in video format. The majority include sound recordings by the artists.
According to Turel, the exhibition’s nature challenges its viewers to contemplate the artists’ underlying messages.
“This exhibit is very provocative,” Turel said. “It is more pleasant, more visually appealing. It forces you to confront very difficult questions about identity, morality and the body in society. It is more interesting that these questions are portrayed in a video.”
First-year College of Creative Studies art major Jo Downes was among the first students to take a tour of the exhibition on its opening day.
“I think ‘I Am the Medium’ is pretty interesting because it’s modern,” Downes said. “The pieces provoke reaction. They have a very powerful message.”
UCSB graduate and undergraduate students will guide free tours of the exhibits between Oct. 29 and Nov. 2. They will meet daily at noon, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the SRB Information Desk.
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