Sacred & Profane: an InterArts Showcase

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Sacred & Profane, the first InterArts show of the school year, opened earlier this month at the Flamenco Arts Center on N. Western Avenue. At first, the venue seemed unusual for the combination of installations and performances on display. The off-kilter feeling stemmed from the wall-length assortment of mirrors in the space, creating a doppelgänger of opening night. The reflection was fitting though, seeing as how the theme of Sacred & Profane centered on perceptions. All of the works questioned the boundaries of value, judgment, and forgiveness in private and public spaces. The mirrors reminded gallery go-ers that as they viewed the work, they were ultimately viewing themselves.

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Speaking of work, the diversity of Sacred & Profane showcased the multiple talents of the Interdisciplinary Arts Department. A host of performances overtook the space, each one wildly different than the one before. I watched Jules Piscitiello writing on the walls of a clear telephone-booth structure for her piece Glass House. It wasn’t until viewers were offered black lights that the invisible ink glowed in phosphorescent purple, revealing Piscitiello’s stream of consciousness and hidden truths. Exploring the inside of Glass House was equal parts C.S.I and personal memoir.

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The curiosity in the back corner was Mike LaHood’s Box. The large wooden crate became a construction site…within the crate itself. Amid the chatter and hors d’oeuvres, Lahood carved out two holes with a jigsaw, labeling one “Prayers” and the other “Bad Advice”. Viewers throughout the night paid, bartered, or bribed LaHood to dispense words from either category; the sliding scale of payment and service created hilarious (and cringeworthy) discussions on love, employment opportunities, and blackmailing methods.

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Installation work anchored the rest of Sacred & Profane, needling viewers in the right soft spots about belief. Kathi Beste, a Book & Paper student, set up her new media altar titled Who Will Be the Next Top God? A collection of religious prints, iconography, and photographs surrounded a shiny laptop where one could read Top God’s growing discussion threads on higher beings and the afterlife. Viewers were encouraged to post their own thoughts while in the gallery (and some did with fervor).

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The window space opposite Beste housed Elizabeth Isakson-Dado’s work Sublime Triptych (London), referencing the terrible and mesmerizing spectacle of the summer riots in London. Isakson-Dado encapsulated the violence in a series of chandeliers that play like frames of a movie as they fall. Like the other work, Sublime Triptych grabs the viewer and asks, “is it beautiful yet? Is it ever beautiful?”

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Answers–or at least solace–to those questions could be found in Michelle Korte-Leccia’s Unowned. It is a quieter work among the pieces I’ve mentioned (and the many other great pieces I haven’t). The assemblage of domestic and organic artifacts created its own aura of holiness, but an aura rooted in the everyday, the human. Braided fabric, eucalyptus, and dried grapefruit rested on a quaint chest of drawers. Prompted by my own curiosity, I opened the drawers to find collections of smooth rocks, flowers, and other bric-a-brac I could investigate.

The reverence (and slight guilt) of exploring Unowned gave me a moment of contemplation in an otherwise effervescent, energetic show. I knew that these precious things had been touched before. They had a history. And now that I had touched them, they would never be the same. For better or worse, I had my hand in rearranging the story for the next person to experience. Was it profane to take a stone with me? Sacred to arrange the grapefruit halves along the edge of the dresser? Was it beautiful yet?

Is it ever?

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