Making official photos of art objects takes more TLC than you may realize — especially a 7-foot-tall art object sporting a massive tulle dress.
Kansas University's Spencer Museum of Art shared this time-lapse video of staffers setting up and shooting Sophie-Ntombikayise, a larger-than-life sculpture by 29-year-old Johannesburg, South Africa, artist Mary Sibande. The piece posed unique challenges because of it's size and shape.
See the custom set-building, lighting, shooting, tear-down and resulting shots — in this fast-forward style video, it takes less than 4 minutes.
Sophie is the first sculpture of Sibande's to enter the permanent collection of any museum in the United States, according to the Spencer. Read more about the object — now on display in the museum's central court — in my last blog post.
Hat-tip to photographers Matthew Gonzales and Ryan Waggoner for sharing their work!
Now that the Spencer Museum of Art at Kansas University has finally reopened after its water-main induced closure, visitors will be greeted by someone new.
She goes by “Sophie.”
Sophie-Ntombikayise is a larger-than-life sculpture by 29-year-old Johannesburg, South Africa, artist Mary Sibande. Sophie was scheduled to go on display last weekend in the museum’s center court, but the Aug. 1 water main break kept the museum closed until Tuesday of this week. (Note: Although the museum’s art objects and galleries escaped unharmed, unfortunately 15,000 to 20,000 books from the Murphy Art and Architecture Library in the basement were damaged.)
I got a peek at Sophie earlier this summer, when she was waiting in the wings for her debut. Even in a dimly lit temporary gallery, where she was stored with other art objects on their way into or out of display, she was impressive.
Sophie culiminates Sibande’s series of sculptural installations featuring four generations of women in her family, all of whom worked as domestic servants, according to the Spencer. It’s the first work in a U.S. museum collection.
The figure’s skin (formed in cast resin) is onyx-black, with down-turned face and slightly contorted, outstretched arms. Her size and skirt, however, stuck with me most. Sophie is pushing 7 feet tall, and her vivid purple and blue dress has piles and piles of billowing tulle that roll onto the floor in a circumference wider than her height.
The “wonderfully overblown” gown is meant to be an artificial hybrid costume of a maid’s uniform and regal Victorian dress, the Spencer’s exhibit announcement explains. Through Sophie, the announcement says, the artist addresses the traditional role of black women in South Africa and other countries where there’s a history of black servitude.
Did I mention Sophie is larger-than-life? Here’s a link to photos, but this piece is among those that are, without question, better — to scale — in person.
Three new exhibits opened at the Spencer Museum of Art this week. In one of them, you — your thoughts, your voice, your tweets and maybe even your ringtone — become the art in real-time.
Audio artist Jason Charney’s “Sounding Circle” is in a small, darkened studio on the first floor. After pushing aside the black curtain, you’ll see a projector screen with a question and a microphone — and that’s pretty much it. You’re supposed to answer the question, recording yourself by pressing on a foot pedal. As soon as your answer leaves your lips, you’ll begin to hear it resonating, repeating and fading in and out around you — interjected with white noise, other sounds and blips from previous visitors.
If you go, you may hear a distorted-sounding me saying “The North Pole” (Where is one place you will never go?) and something like, “Finally getting out of the house and on my way” (What’s the best part of your morning routine and why?). As the exhibit played back my answers Friday, a strange guy’s voice popped in to add comments like, “Ancient things” and “I’m an Aquarius.” It’s pretty cool, and I’m guessing after the exhibit’s been up more than a day, there will be even more voices.
You can even submit questions via Twitter — just add the hashtag #soundingcircle when you tweet. (Pssst: If, “Is this really art?” from @KCSSara shows up on the screen, then we’ll know it works — and that the Spencer staffers moderating questions approved mine.)
“Sounding Circle” is meant to foster dialogue and reflection,” the Spencer explains. “By hearing their own words repeated and changed, participants consider their responses closely as their voices become less a vehicle for content and more a generator of music. As they stand and listen in the Circle, they connect with others who have also wandered into its space.”
Charney, an acoustic and electronic media composer, graduated from KU this year with a bachelor’s of music degree in music composition and theory. This fall he’s headed to the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University to pursue a master’s in composition and computer music.
“Sounding Circle” will be up until Sept. 30.
Also new this week:
“Politics as Symbol/Symbol as Politics,” curated by KU political science professor Burdett Loomis, in the 20/21 Gallery (one of the open-air spaces inside the modern art gallery on the second floor). Works include one of Jasper Johns’ flag series, video of political advertising and a vote-for-Bob Dole poodle skirt from his 1962 campaign. Timed to coincide with this year’s presidential campaign, it’s up until Jan. 27.
“The Ray of Hope: Aaron Douglas-inspired Quilts and Murals,” in the first-floor Lobby Gallery. Lawrence quilt artist Marla Jackson led a project in which children created colorful quilt blocks inspired by Aaron Douglas and the Harlem Renaissance. The exhibit is scheduled to be displayed until Sept. 16.