Art beat // From the sea to the desert

From the sea to the desert

Video work shines brightest at McKnight exhibition

WHITTIER — That a woman born with the name Luna del Mar Aguilu would grow up to become an Olympic synchronized swimmer is improbable.

Unbelievable, you might say, if it weren’t true. It’s also true there are places in Puerto Rico (where Luna del Mar lives) where tiny microorganisms make the seawater glow blue, even though these “bioluminescent bays” sound like something out of science fiction.

But don’t let these details distract from your enjoyment of Cameron Keith Gainer’s video project, “Luna del Mar,” screening as part of the annual McKnight Visual Artists Fellowship Exhibition. It is one of the more rewarding pieces in a Minneapolis College of Art and Design gallery filled with obscurities.

Gainer filmed at night using a supersensitive camera to capture the faint blue glow that trails his subject through the water like a dancer’s silks. Accompanied by an ever-changing soundscape where droning cello morphs into whale song, the grainy footage evokes swirling star clusters emanating from a human-shaped black hole.

Andréa Stanislav’s dual videos, part of an installation whose central image is the 160-story Burj Khalifa in Dubai, are the other highlight of the exhibition. Stanislav traveled to a would-be desert metropolis, and her footage suggests layers of mirages.

Aerial footage of the world’s tallest building, shot from a circling aircraft, pulls back to reveal the rest of downtown Dubai as a massive construction site, with seemingly as many buildings in progress as completed. We see hunting falcons and their masters posing against an artificial backdrop, eerily empty images of Dubai streets shot from a moving vehicle and a woman, whose face we never see, spray painting vaguely political slogans on a graffiti-covered wall.

Another of this year’s McKnight fellows, Matthew Bakkom, proposes a billboard-sized anagram — “HUSTLING/SUNLIGHT” — as a kind of two-word poem. Puzzling over Bakkom’s intentions will lead one down all sorts of paths, none of them very certain.

There’s a jumble of imagery in Aaron Spangler’s very large crayon rubbing on linen, including a few arms and legs, which may bring to mind the Shroud of Turin, that surprisingly durable medieval hoax. But the other bits and pieces — some biological, some mechanical — make it clear this shroud wrapped something far stranger.


Go see it
2010–11 McKnight Visual Artists Fellowship Exhibition runs through Aug. 19 at Minneapolis College of Art and Design, 2501 Stevens Ave. S. 874-3700. mcad.edu

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Summer vacation

THE WEDGE — Highpoint Center for Printmaking’s biannual co-op exhibits are a welcome opportunity to catch up on work by co-op members.

Among the familiar names this time around is Therese Krupp, who has for several years, now, been producing charming prints inspired by mid-century European commercial illustration work. At their best, Krupp’s prints are as pithy and witty as the advertisements she finds in a prized collection of old magazines, and her recent work shows Krupp growing bolder in her composition and use of color.

James Boyd-Brent contributes exuberant, animated outdoor scenes to the show, including a Boundary Waters landscape populated by splashing loons, leaping fish and cavorting campers. In the best way possible, it was reminiscent of a vintage cartoon postcard, the kind you’d find yellowing on the racks in some Northwoods fishing lodge.


Go see it
Hot Off the Press 2011 runs through Aug. 18 at Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W. Lake St. 871-1326. highpointprintmaking.org