The Miller Gallery provided many slices of color and talent provided by the outgoing MFA students. Each floor of the three level complex at CMU had a hero exhibit with two or three off in the wings. Some exhibits were plagued with technical difficulties. However, The hero exhibits are what will be remembered, or smelled in the case of onions, for years to come.
The opening project by Lucia Nhamo was deemed a major waste of space. Upon entering the nearly empty first floor, you were greeted with an rushed together airline stewardess with bags of peanuts for ‘Zimbabwe Air’. The prime feature of this piece was a 3D animation of the Hyperinflated Zimbabwe Dollar. The projection on the wall played in a loop, but failed to wrap itself around the mind.
In starch contrast to the opening floor, JaeWook Lee’s work calculatingly filled the entire room. Breaking with his traditional style, “Less is Known on Earth” incorporated human performances contributing to the saturated landscape. Individually, the objects were rather poorly constructed. Yet together in the floor, the blemishes are overlooked. Further still: The attendees found themselves falling into the piece as paint on a canvas.
Elizabeth Buschmann and Dakotah Konicek’s pieces both suffered technical issues. Ms. Buschmann’s piece was lacking proper audio levels greatly disabling the communication it had. Konicek’s piece could be traced along the walls and grounds. A mobile fish tank with heavy symbolism for circular patterns. Water was extracted and traced wall to eventually be refilled on the other side. This one missed many of the connections preventing the process from completion.
Isla Hansen’s Onion Empire was the most captivating. Hansen documents with live performance and camera feeds the hypothetical life cycles of onions from birth to death. The dramatic narrative of food preparation will leave tears in your eyes. Really. The entire floor was dedicated to onion dicing. So extreme was this, a blender with goggles attached allowed participants to enjoy all the wonders of the delicious onion. The only warning is, since this was a large production – if you go to see it, the experience will not be the same without the actors.
Lastly, Rafael Abreu-Canedo’s ambition to live life in slow motion was fulfilled after many attempts. The final video of Rafael battling with his body to achieve sloth like precision and speed was showed in a side room. From tying a shoe, to exiting the room, Rafael’s recorded performance held something the others did not. The painstaking effort to get close to perfection.