Architectural installations at SITE’s Unsuspected Possibilities
The theme of collaboration on site-specific installations ties together the SITE Santa Fe exhibits SITE 20 Years/20 Shows: Summer and Unsuspected Possibilities. Within that context, the works of the three artists in the latter show — Marie Watt, Leonardo Drew, and Sarah Oppenheimer — are united by explorations of structural or architectural concerns. Drew is known for his large-scale sculptural works that address themes of urban decay, social justice, and the commodification of nature. Appearing almost like a cityscape in microcosm viewed from above, his wall-mounted installation in Unsuspected Possibilities comprises burned wooden blocks and planks of various lengths and widths. More organiclooking, branchlike appendages affixed to the wall contrast with the geometricized patterning of the cut wood.
Watt’s component of the installation conforms to the rough dimensions of an Iroquois longhouse. “When I was living in New York City, where you live in these dense community situations where there’s a lot of vertical living, I became interested in how neighborly everybody was and the people you meet by nature of your routines,” Watt told Pasatiempo. “You get to know people as a result of that dense community living.” Watt, who is part Seneca, took the idea of vertical living, as in a high-rise apartment complex, and translated it into the horizontal format of the longhouse, replacing the traditional corn-husk mats that divide the interiors of longhouses into separate living spaces for families with blankets created with the help of sewing circles from SITE, the Institute of American Indian Arts, Tierra Encantada Charter School, and the Santa Fe Indian School. Each textile conveys a narrative scene that relates to Native histories from the East Coast, where Watt is from, to the West, where she now lives, in Portland, Oregon. “I’m coming back in October for the Native American Arts Studies Conference, and we’re inviting the same student groups back to SITE to see their contribution to the finished work,” Watt said.
Oppenheimer’s contribution is composed of architectural interventions built into the walls of SITE: strategically placed windows set with angled mirrors that allow visitors to see Watt’s and Drew’s installations from another room and from around a corner. It’s a beguiling and innovative project that toys with viewer perceptions and perspective. Each artist individually worked on his or her project, and the result is an installation of works that stand on their own as well as in relation to one another. —M.A.
▼ Unsuspected Possibilities
▼ Opens 12 p.m. Saturday, July 18; exhibit through Jan. 3, 2016
▼ SITE Santa Fe, 1606 Paseo de Peralta, 505-989-1199
▼ Entrance by museum admission (no charge July 18)
Number 163, 2012; wood, paint, paper, metal, courtesy the artist & Sikkema Jenkins Co. Below, Marie Watt: East Meets West