Sunday, February 5, 2023

Lost in Translation: A Game of Telephone at the San Diego Public Library Art Gallery

 by Patricia Frischer

When I walked into this exhibition, I was certainly lost. This is not a one quick glance show, but one that takes some time and thought. It took me awhile to figure out that each ‘thread” started with a paragraph. The words were given anonymously to an artist who responded with an image. That image is then given to another writer who creates a small paragraph reaction to the visual art work. Those literary sentences are then sent to yet another artist who responds and so on.  Sometimes the end of the thread is an image, others times it is text. 

On the first sets of walls to the left as you enter, the images are not labeled next to the works causing some confusion. But once you understand the pattern of the show, you start to read and then look to the images for signs of the artists' interpretations. Then you look to the next set of words for inspiration from the images. 

On the long wall to the right it is easier to identify the artists and the writers as labels of the artists are next to their works. And often the artists added extra statements about how the words inspired their images.

Do note that the threads are not presented in order but are still titled numerically from zero to 6. The writers sometimes create text in more than one thread. And in one instance with Perry Vasquez, he is an artist on one thread and a writer on another. An added plus is that  the wall labels give you lots more information from the artists and the writers. 

Slow down sufficiently and you are rewarded with some very interesting juxtapositions of images and words.  Curator Chi Essary with Julia Dixon Evans, writer and KPBS/Arts Producer must have worked hard to keep this all straight. You have until April 15 to play this game yourself and there is a very nice catalog which helps immensely. If nothing else, this show proves as Chi Essary says in her forward, "...our view is not the only view."

Personally, this show reminded me of  the whispering game. The first person whispered into the second person's ear. As the statement goes down a long line of whispers and hearers, it is distorted into an entirely different message. This happens with hot breath and lots of giggles.  The first message is literally completely lost and when the last message is spoken out loud it often makes no sense at all, but you still have a wonderful time.  

Here is an extra quote from one of our favorite artists in this exhibition: I liked very much the writing I received so it was easy to respond with an image. And I liked the exhibition!  It was interesting for me to see the audience READING!!!! words and images.
Marianela de la Hoz

Note: For my own clarity I am showing these pictures below in the order they appear in the gallery and not in the catalog.  In the first two threads, I am adding just a very few words to give you a taste of the flow.. I have included some of the words by the artists as well.  My intent is to tempt you to see the show yourself, but any confusion caused might possibly be another layer of translation lost. 

Thread 6: Text Julia Dixon Evans - Let's feed your doll some of these nice weeds.

Alanna Airitam
Text: Ari Honarvar -  ...a baby ragdoll stitched from the ruins of the past

De la Torre Brothers - Our historical rewrite is complicated by the current absurd reading of the second amendment fueled by heavily processed food. 
Text: Patrick Coleman - ...that brick was once stone, was once soil...

Beliz Iristay - ....the writing also evokes a certain sensuality in me. 

Thread 2: text Corey Lynn Fayman - audience of migratory swallows.

Animal Cracker Conspiracy - ...a stage or toy theater setting used within puppetry to bring the visual narrative to life. 
Text: Lily Hoang -....a bird symphony into a birdothon...

Lindy Ivey - I really love the idea of taking a step back and observing these conversations in nature take place.
Text:  Ryan Bradford -  "'s,  like Cab Calloway or Benny Goodman or something."

Thread 1: text Marisa Crane

Marianella de la Hoz,
Text: Phil Beaumont

Guro Silva
Text:  Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi

MR Barnadas

Thread 3: text Patrick Coleman

Jackie Dunn Smith
Text: Marisa Crane

John Purlia
Text:  Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi

Thread 0: text Kirsten Imani Kasai
Sheena Rae Dowling
Text: Corey Lynn Fayman

Alanna Airitam
Text: Max Feye

Thread 5: text Ryan Bradford

Hugo Crosthwaite
Text: Corey Lynn Fayman

Wick Alexander
Text: Kirsten Imani Kasai

Thread 4:  text Corey Lynn Fayman

Carlos Castro
Text: Miki Vale

Charles Glaubitz
Text: Lizz Huerta

Perry Vasquez

Featuring works by Alanna Airitam, Wick Alexander, Animal Cracker Conspiracy, MR Barnadas, Phil Beaumont, Ryan Bradford, Carlos Castro, Patrick Coleman, Marisa Crane, Hugo Crosthwaite, De la Torre Brothers, Sheena Rae Dowling, Julia Dixon Evans, Corey Lynn Fayman, Max Feye, Charles Glaubitz, Lily Hoang, Ari Honarvar, Marianella de la Hoz, Lizz Huerta, Beliz Iristay, Lindy Ivey, Kirsten Imani Kasai, Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi, John Purlia, Guro Silva, Jackie Dunn Smith, Miki Vale, and Perry Vasquez

Lost in Translation: A Game of Telephone San Diego Public Library Art Gallery
Feb 4 to April 15
330 Park Blvd, San Diego 92101
Gallery Hours: M-Tu: 1-7pm W-Sa: 12-5pm Closed Sunday
More info: Bonnie Domingos   619.238.6690

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