Open Wounds

Get­ting Real and Source Ma­teriel ex­hibits at CCA

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - Jen­nifer Levin

“AS part of the show, I’m giv­ing as­tro­log­i­cal read­ings,” said Edie Tsong, a Santa Fe- based artist whose work is in­cluded in Get­ting Real, open­ing Fri­day, Feb. 19, at t he Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. The group show ex­plores the var­i­ous ways in which artists work with trauma and cathar­sis. For some artists, the con­cepts serve as im­pe­tus for the gen­er­a­tion of a piece, cloaked in lay­ers of sym­bol­ism and ab­strac­tion, and for oth­ers, trauma and cathar­sis are the sub­jects of the work it­self.

Tsong, who i s orig­i­nally f rom State Col­lege, Penn­syl­va­nia, moved to Santa Fe nine years agoo and turned to the wis­dom of astrol­ogy when shee started ex­pe­ri­enc­ing un­usual, neg­a­tive events that shee couldn’t ex­plain ra­tio­nally. “I felt that I’d been build­ingg my life in a way that’s very pos­i­tive — why were th­e­see weird things hap­pen­ing to me? So I went to a pro­fes-sional as­trologer, and it to­tally changed my per­spec­tivee on iden­tity,” she said. “In the United States, you groww up with the sense that by force of will you can bee what­ever you want, who­ever you want. When I wass in­tro­duced to astrol­ogy, I gained a dif­fer­ent sense off how peo­ple are de­signed as hu­man be­ings.”

Tsong’s work has al­ways been rooted in iden­tity,, specif­i­cally t hat of grow­ing up as a Tai­wanese-Amer­i­can in the middle of mostly white Penn Sta­tee foot­ball cul­ture. She never felt i ncluded in t hee com­mu­nity and of­ten found her voice sti­fled viaa mi­croag­gres­sions, the psy­cho- so­cial term for thee daily and com­mon­place racist snubs ex­pe­ri­encedd by peo­ple of color that can re­sult in psy­cho­log­i­call trauma. Af­ter rein­vent­ing her life in Santa Fe, Tsong iss a yoga teacher, as­trologer, and itin­er­ant art in­struc­tor.. Her work is in so­cial prac­tice, a con­tem­po­rary artt form that em­pha­sizes in­ter­ac­tion with the pub­licc over a one-on-one re­la­tion­ship be­tween an ob­ject andd a viewer. The as­tro­log­i­cal read­ings she’ll give in the CCA gallery are an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. (Lim­ited slots are avail­able for a slid­ing fee; for in­for­ma­tion about re­serv­ing a space, visit www.ccas­ vis­ual- arts/ pub­lic-pro­grams. You must know your pre­cise time of birth.)

For Get­ting Real, Tsong is also repris­ing Love Let­ter to the World, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Al­bu­querque artist Michael Lorenzo Lopez that they first held in 2015 at The Paseo, an in­ter­ac­tive arts fes­ti­val in Taos. Pro­fes­sional writ­ers, sit­ting at type­writ­ers, worked with the pub­lic to com­pose brief let­ters to peo­ple they wanted to com­mu­ni­cate lov­ingly to in some way. At in­ter­vals, Tsong climbed to the top of a 12-foot lad­der and read the mis­sives through a bull­horn. “Some­times it would be a let­ter to some­one who had passed away. It could be to a son or daugh­ter who had been es­tranged, writ­ten by a par­ent. It could be an apol­ogy. There was all level of hu­man heal­ing in this, and all the let­ters dis­played the com­plex­ity of love re­la­tion­ships that peo­ple have.” The let­ters were typed on car­bon pa­per so the sender could keep the orig­i­nal, and the copy be­came part of the in­stal­la­tion. All 300 let­ters writ­ten in Taos will be on dis­play ata CCA, and writ­ers will be on hand to com­pose neww let­ters at the open­ing re­cep­tion of Get­ting Real annd then on se­lect Fri­day af­ter­noons in Fe­bru­ary, Marchh, and April. (For a sched­ule and list of writ­ers, as weell as the sev­eral pub­lic pro­grams as­so­ci­ated with thhe ex­hi­bi­tion, visit the CCA web­site.)

“I could never say what I wanted to say when I was grow­ing up, so now I’m on a lad­der with a bul­ll­horn,” Tsong said. “It turns out what I have to say isi re­flect­ing back to peo­ple the most im­por­tant thinggs they carry in their hearts.”

Some­what darker themes inf lu­ence Clau­dia X.X Valdes’ con­tri­bu­tion to t he show, Judg­ment, a 92-square-inch pho­to­graph printed on Ja­panese kozo pa­per. It’s from a new body of work the Al­bu­querque artist has been de­vel­op­ing since 2014, which fo­cuses on the sto­ries of three women who have un­der­gone trauma to spe­cific body parts as a re­sult of abuse or dis­ease. Valdes de­scribed the fi­brous kozo pa­per as thin and bil­lowy but strong, with a skin-like qual­ity, an ideal sur­face on which to dis­play a close- up, ab­stracted im­age that she gen­er­ated by pho­tograph­ing body casts she made of the women.

“I’m play­ing with the in­verted psy­cho­log­i­cal re­la­tion­ships that hap­pen when you have a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence with the body. ... While one can have em­pa­thy for or bear wit­ness to some­one else’s trauma, it’s im­pos­si­ble to truly un­der­stand what some­one else has gone through,” Valdes said. “This pro­ject bears wit­ness, but touches on that im­pos­si­bil­ity.”

Valdes’ pre­vi­ous work in­cludes pub­lic art about the cul­tural trauma of nu­clear waste, which will be in­her­ited by fu­ture gen­er­a­tions for mil­lions of years — peo­ple who may or may not be able to un­der­stand the in­struc­tions left for them on how not to dis­turb the waste sites. Judg­ment is more per­sonal in na­ture, in­spired by

deal­ing with her own trau­matic past and her un­der­stand­ing of the mind-body con­nec­tion.

Other artists rep­re­sented in Get­ting Real are Emma Le­vitt, Lind­say Tunkl, Jen­nifer Moon, Laura Reese, Joshua Greene, and the In­sti­tute for New Feel­ing, an art col­lec­tive com­pris­ing Nina Sar­nelle, Agnes Bolt, and Scott An­drew, which ex­plores the cul­ture of self-help and spir­i­tual com­modi­ti­za­tion with their sculp­tural video piece, Air Fresh­ener. Le­vitt, from Seat­tle, brings her large-scale tex­tile, In the Pres­ence of Ab­sence, knit­ted from the gar­ments of her re­cently de­ceased part­ner. In the harder you pull, the harder it be­comes; the things we say to the dead are not for them, Reese also ex­plores cop­ing with loss through art­mak­ing. Greene, from the San Fran­cisco Bay Area, has a so­cial prac­tice in­stal­la­tion called Group Ther­apy + Needle­point­ing, which comes out of a ther­apy group that met weekly at the Ham­mer Mu­seum in Los An­ge­les in 2010. Tunkl, also from the Bay Area, takes on ther­apy and self-help with a view to­ward death, anx­i­ety, and the apoc­a­lypse. She has sev­eral works in the show, in­clud­ing a home­made Rorschach test called Ori­gins and End­ings. On Fri­days in Fe­bru­ary, Tunkl of­fers “pre-apoc­a­lypse coun­sel­ing ses­sions,” in which her car is used as a ther­a­pist’s couch. The ses­sions are not in­tended to have true psy­chother­a­peu­tic value, but they present an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore what it means to, as Tunkl has put it, “ex­ist be­fore ex­tinc­tion.”


g n o Ts e i d E

In­sti­tute For New Feel­ing: Air Fresh­ener, clay, oxy­tocin, plug-in dis­penser; op­po­site page, top, love let­ter from

Love Let­ter to the World, The Paseo, Taos, 2015; bot­tom, Michael Lorenzo Lopez’s camper for Love Let­ter to

the World, The Paseo, Taos, 2015

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