Ellie Ga This Was Later On January 13 - February 20 2011
Weaving tales using live narrative, moving and still images as well as sound and sculpture, Ellie Ga will create a new installation for her first solo show at Bureau. Twice weekly, using a bespoke deck of cards, Ga will give readings to visitors, each unique and following a different trajectory. The work for this show, This Was Later On and her performative lecture, The Fortunetellers is based on the artist’s experiences during and following an expedition aboard the TARA, a research vessel that spent 2 years drifting through the pack ice of the North Pole. Stories inspired by an uncertain voyage are the centerpiece to the exhibition, where only the cracks in ice can tell the future, like the lines of the hand. Here, divination mutates into fortune telling as the artist appropriates the form, using cards to retell the past. Through imagery on decks of cards Ga explores how telling fortunes relates to weather prediction, linking time, chance and the Tarot to metaphors for how we cope, or fail to cope, with uncertainty.
In the installation, repeated images of wristwatch advertisements become a symbol for the nature of time onboard the ship and bring the viewer into a new rhythm, as clock faces click to 10:10 again and again through a loop on a slide carousel. A fragment of the ship’s door jamb, cast in brass, bears the mark of forceful entries to and from the boat. The deep groove in the door’s metal frame traces the movement and daily routines from inside the hull to the polar landscape. In the hermetic and hectic environment of the polar vessel, where outside a vast and dark landscape awaited and inside the personal politics of proximity and power played out daily, a microcosm of life is refocused by the artist.
Amongst a team of ten specialized professionals on the TARA Ga played the role of poet of the quotidian, investigating the language and symbolic potential of the boat’s daily activities: from melting snow for dish washing and bathing, to complex technical research studying water salinity carried out by the boat’s scientists. On the ice, documentation folded into narrative when routines were re-staged to photograph. The stories told through the artist’s images and words highlight her perspective of existential awareness – of finding meaning in the mundane or seeking clues to an uncertain future. As the immediacy of her experience fades and mutates, Ga wrestles with the way memory becomes abstracted and schematic. Her tales range from incredible to urbane, but they keep changing, just like the seemingly endless and frozen landscape surrounding the drifting boat.
Ellie Ga was born in 1976 in New York City, and completed her MFA in 2004 at Hunter College. Her work has been exhibited at the Swiss Institute, Galerie du Jour, Paris and Hong Kong, Konstmuseum, Malmö, Sweden and Projekt 0047 in Oslo, Norway. She has presented performative lectures at the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Palermo, Sicily, ICI, Berlin, Bétonsalon, Paris, and in New York City at PS1 and in the Edifying Series for The Bruce High Quality Foundation University. Her artist books are in the collection of MOMA, NYPL and Yale University. She is currently living in Brooklyn.
Reading 3, January 14, 2011, available here