ATHICA EMERGES V: The Synthetic Mind

Saturday, July 21st, 2012-Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Curator: ATHICA Interns under the guidance of Artistic Director Emerita,

L.Z. Saltz | Co-Curator: E. Green Barrera, K. Clark, N. Day, M. Drury & B. Gaby

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Ben Mckee, Under the Needle, (2012), kinetic sculpture
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Brian Histelberger, detail from the series: Arguments for and Against Solitude (2012) bookcovers, graphite, paint

Nine artists synthesize perception and awareness using a variety of approaches, from the neurobiological to sociological. In so doing they capture and recreate the many ways we perceive and experience the world around us, focusing our attention on the binary of eternity and instantaneity.

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Photos by Vivian Lidell taken through car windows


Working under the guidance of ATHICA’s Artistic Director Emeritus, Lizzie Zucker Saltz, the exhibition concept and its works were selected by a team of interns–junior art historians and young artists– all new to curatorial practice.

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Stills from C.D. Howe’s 4-channel video installation


The exhibition’s featured artists are Brian Hitselberger and Ben Mckee –both graduates from The University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art’s Masters of Fine Arts program (LDSOA)–both incorporate memes associated with Renaissance philosophy, such as humanism and scientific investigation.   For instance Hitselberger’s work combines the cosmic scale of the stars and moons of our galaxy with sensually and meticulously drawn views of artists writers from various angles, deliberately obscuring their specific identities. The rendering of the hair in particular was inspired by DaVinci ’s studies of water, although much of the compositions take their cues from the Renaissance man’s famous notebooks. Drawn and painted directly on the insides of hardback book covers, the works combine realist drawings of individuals in thought with abstractions of space and distance. By combining the two, Hitselberger’s series Arguments for and Against Solitude alludes to a third, unnamed element: the slippery arena of human insight. These diptychs will be displayed attached to the walls, and reinterpreted as a large installation called Self-Portrait In and Out of Sleep , which dramatically shifts the scale of the imagery, as well as it’s relationship to the viewer.   Mckee’s kinetic sculptures are jaw-dropping master mechanisms whose functionality seems to have one purpose, to blur the line between what is human and what is artificial. His synthesizing of man and mechanism plays on British philosopher Gilbert Ryle’s notion of the “ghost in the machine,” drawing on themes developed by master kineticist Arthur Ganson. Two of four of Mckee’s sculptures employ motor oil, exploiting both its implicit sensuality and political implications. Under the Needle tempers human curiosity with veiled eroticism, as it probes a  lump of coke the scale and shape of a human heart. The artist has given the machine inquisitive personality all its own, provoking questions about what it means to be human. In contrast to Under the Needle , Identity is a symbolic self-portrait, albeit of a nontraditional sort. Employing a 240-volt electromagnet to raise and distort a plate of oil, the piece transforms the oil into the lifeblood of the machine, questioning the boundary between creation and creator and arousing themes of manipulation and control. Beneath the Surface –sports a school of scary-sharp circular needles whose tips repeatedly puncture the surface of a tray of oil, similarly evoking the ghostly aura of a machine that can produce surprisingly life-like movements.   Works by the other seven artists form not only the thematic complement to Hitselberger and McKee’s, but they are antennae that further extend the limits of our perception. ATHICA Emerges V will provoke philosophical musings in even the most hard-boiled of viewers, who will also be soothed and stimulated by our summer show of surprising and delightful new imagery.

Participating Artists Featured Artists: Brian Hitselberger &  Ben McKee

Participating Artists: Bob Davis C.D. Howe – Elizabeth Kleene – Vivian Liddell Justine Stevens   –  Dena Zilber  – Thomas Sanders