Mary Lucier departed from her traditional lecture format for her April 5 appearance in the final Spring 2012 lecture of the InterArts 35th Anniversary Visiting Artist Lecture Series. Her usual presentation encompasses not only her career to date, but includes a contextualization of video and installation art in the larger art historical discourse.
This time, Ms. Lucier decided to show only her most recent and in-progress work, treating her audience to a view into her artistic process.
Lucier’s artistic career has involved many mediums, but she has concentrated on video and installation since 1973. Her latest works are geographically diverse, but are linked by sense of calm and mediation. Included in the works screened was a selection from an installation piece she developed in 2005–2006 in Milwaukee, WI, incorporating the lakefront and the Milwaukee Art Museum. During her residency in the city, Lucier observed the changing light and mood in the museum space, and videotaped visitors’ interactions with the site. She found that people seemed to behave very freely and expressively in their response, creating little vignettes of performance art as they moved around the lobby.
She invited 150 individuals and groups to perform the simplest of activities in this unexpected space, with the loose directive to “act like normal museum visitors,” with a slight behavioral twist. Among the participants were dancers, cyclists, jugglers, basketball players, Yoga practitioners, roller derby skaters, and a children’s chorus. The only requirement was to dress in black, and to be prepared to do whatever it was the performers did best: walk, talk, run, roll, dance, sing, or even stand absolutely still.
Lucier also showed still images and talked about her most recent project, inspired by Buddhist convents of Kyoto and Nara, Japan. She was allowed to observe and record many of the occupants of these convents as they went about their daily activities, as well as while they were performing some of the rituals of the ancient spaces in the convent. The videos have both an intimate and spacious feel, and reflect Lucier’s commitment to preserving these important cultural rites.
Lucier’s visit to InterArts included individual studio visits with graduates in the program. For more information Mary Lucier and her work, click here.