Amidst near-constant complaints (mostly from SCAD students and the disaffected art grads who remain in the city) about Savannah’s lack of love for “new media” art, it’s nice to see somebody finally quit their bitching and make a show about it.
dis:EMBODIED, a juried exhibition of new media artwork at Non-Fiction Gallery created by SCAD art history undergrads Emma Abercrombie, Rebecca Chadwick, Lauren Studebaker, and Tessa Woodrey, focuses on work which explores the physical body’s relationship to the digital. The team of curators has billed the show as a “new media exhibition” with an emphasis on video art.
It really is the video work that shines here. Finn Schult’s beautifully textured “Wake” (which premiered at her solo exhibition, In Loving Memory, earlier this Spring), Richard Munaba’s stellar “Who Can Say”, and Morgan Maher’s “Love Desires” (at 22 seconds long it’s the shortest piece in the show but it hits like a lightning bolt) are stand-outs.
Unfortunately, many of the print works feel insubstantial and flat (perhaps due to the way they’re displayed–does entry into the “new media” category necessitate a lack of framing?). A series of Instagram shots paired with text fragments from New York artist Jump Jirakaweekul’s SurroundContext project feels inexplicably disjointed from the rest of the works and comes off as so hip that even the possibility that they’re satirical can’t save them.
Cameron Allen’s “sOciaL bUrN” injects some self-awareness and fun with its translation of internet orthography into visual language; it’s perhaps the most successful conceptual work here.
Luan Sherman’s fantastic tapestry, “Oliwer”, caps off the show with its exploration of the physical body as a cultural object; it lays out the groundwork for Sherman’s performance piece, “To Empower Oneself”, which will debut at the exhibition’s opening on Friday, April 29 from 6 – 9pm. Sherman will sand and sculpt a life-size plaster cast of his torso until it takes on the “masculine contours of the chest [he] desire[s].”
As it stands, dis:EMBODIED is more of a soft dive into the New Aesthetic than a survey of new media–it scratches the surface to give us a glimpse of how our physical world is increasingly invaded by the visual language of the internet, but a glimpse is all we get. That’s not to say that dis:EMBODIED fails in any sense of the word, just that it could succeed more. At the most basic level, the show deserves credit for its diversity of mediums and artists, and for contributing to Savannah’s sparse artistic discourse around new media artforms.
You will leave this show with more questions than answers, but if that inspires more exhibitions of this type in Savannah then so be it.
dis:EMBODIED is on display at Non-Fiction Gallery April 29 – May 2. The opening reception is on Friday, April 29 from 6 – 9pm and features a performance by Luan Sherman.