Exhibit Explores Travel, Foreignness
A tiny placard on the floor read: “please walk on the boardwalk.” That invitation gave attendees at the recent Up-Routed For exhibit at the Lore Degenstein Gallery the rare opportunity to stand on art. The video sculpture, titled Foreigner, was a light brown boardwalk with a screen embedded in it. Stepping onto the boardwalk revealed the video loop of the word “foreigner” being written in the sand by receding waves.
The award-winning artist behind the exhibit, Asya Reznikov, holds a master of fine arts from Hunter College. She was born in Russia and has lived in the United States, England, Holland, Germany, Italy, India and France. Consequently, travel looms large as a theme in Reznikov’s work and is often apparent in her use of postcards, maps, suitcases and architecture in her creations.
On the exhibit’s opening night, Reznikov delivered a talk that posed these questions: “Who are we? What do we bring with us?” The idea of packing and unpacking one’s life is a theme in many of her video sculptures, such as Kitchen Sink, which projects a video of kitchen supplies being crammed into a cardboard box, and Packing Berlin, which uses video to make a suitcase look as if it’s being filled. Reznikov plays with the concept of packing in wall-hung video installations as well. Circadian Rhythm, for instance, uses two synchronized screens to show the same woman both packing and unpacking a suitcase.
She also uses sculpture, glasswork, paintings, drawings and photographs to explore similar themes of foreignness and identity. Reznikov’s photography series Translation features herself in public places, wearing huge, heavy wings made of translated dictionary pages. “No matter how well you learn a language, there’s still that barrier,” she explained.
Reznikov’s unique work and sharp thematic focus captured many viewers’ imaginations, including that of English major Kathleen Nelson ’14. “It was fascinating to see how one artist could utilize so many artistic media within an art exhibit that was thematically unified,” says Nelson. “They all contributed to the communication of her ideas about traveling and relocating, cultural diversity and personal identity in a way that was captivating and engaging.”
Dan Olivetti, director of the Lore Degenstein Gallery, initially saw the exhibit, then titled Up-Routed, in a New York City venue. “I was impressed by its freshness and cutting-edge qualities,” he says. When Up-Routed was brought to Susquehanna, Olivetti was pleased to find that the exhibition had evolved into the larger and more comprehensive Up-Routed For, and was generally well-received by the public. “To my delight, Up-Routed For was hugely popular among the young, the old and everyone in between, although there were, as always, some people who didn’t care for it. but whatever the reaction to the exhibition was, the viewer was induced to think about art, and their personal view of what constitutes art.”
Contributing writers to The ’Grove section are Karen Jones, assistant director of media relations; Megan McDermott ’14, a creative writing and religion major from Lewisberry, Pa.; Dalton Swett ‘13, a creative writing major from Effingham, N.H.; and Elise Tomaszewski, a creative writing and German major from Selinsgrove, Pa.