The Shifting Space Around Us, and Don’t Shower When It Rains

Main Gallery:

The Shifting Space Around Us
Megan and Murray McMillan
August 27 — Sept 25, 2016

The Skirt: OyG’s site specific space:
Don’t Shower When It Rains
Emily Kloppenburg
August 27 — November 2016

A reception for both exhibitions will be held
Saturday Sept 10, 2016, 6-9pm

Gallery hours: Sat and Sun 1-6 pm and by appointment
Note: The gallery will be closed on Sept 3 and 4 for Labor Day weekend

The Shifting Space Around Us

Ortega y Gasset Projects is proud to present The Shifting Space Around Us, a video installation by artist team Megan and Murray McMillan. Curated by Sarah Rushford, this monumental two-channel installation invites viewers to feel emotionally buoyed as the projections convey a filmic, richly illustrated mythic scene set in a locomotive roundhouse. Original sculpture made by the artist team, functioning as set and prop, perch atop the roundhouse’s gigantic mechanical turntable as this refreshingly expositionless story is shown and not told.

We won’t spoil it and tell you what happens, only that it prompts the viewer’s presence-of-mind to blossom, over one long take, into an engaged state of layered wonder. The slow and understated camera movements, enabled by the transformation of the turntable, by the building itself, not only carry the viewer’s attention but seem to embody the arching inward spectacle of the viewer’s emotional selfhood. They become the motions of one’s own consciousness. Though the work is filmic, the viewer of The Shifting Space Around Us is not tucked into their movie theater seat, they are standing in the dark gallery, there are two perspectives in play at once and the kinesthetic presence of the sculptural objects and the shifting of the roundhouse seem to merge with the gallery. The viewer is swept up and the volumes represented in the work become that of one’s own body and mind.

The Shifting Space Around Us gives a shout out to the legendary cinema historical film A Trip to the Moon. Both pieces convey, however outwardly or subtly intoned, a perilous trip to outer space. The studio of Georges Méliès where A Trip to the Moon was made was also mechanical. (The building transformed to use the sun and sky as studio lighting.) This film, made at the birth of narrative cinema revealed the cast and crew’s creative camaraderie and a certain childlike vulnerability is essential to its emotional tone. Though strikingly ambitious and of the highest, most innovative level of craft, a tone of tenderness and vulnerability also pervades The Shifting Space Around Us and that pervasion is deeper than the acting or the set or any aesthetic choice. It’s tenderness rises from the passion of the community of people that worked on the project, at all levels. This power can be sensed in The Shifting Space Around Us and the McMillan’s entire body of work.

The action that unfolds is an incomplete, multivalent mythology (it has elements of Orpheus and Eurydice and many more likenesses). While remarkably beautiful, it’s intentionally incomplete and calls on the viewer to fill in hulking narrative gaps. It gives a lot to the viewer and asks a lot in return. Instead of illustrating a myth the piece acknowledges the space that all of mythic narrative occupies in the emotional mind of the viewer and by viewing the piece, the viewer is allowed to feel that their experience is grand and mythological. They are traversing their lives, finding themselves in 2016 Brooklyn walking into a darkened gallery to be shown the self, one’s own tenuous state in a huge unknown. Here are these lives projected, and their own lives being lived bravely in the face of change and risk.

Megan and Murray McMillan (Providence, RI) have been collaborating since 2002. They make interdisciplinary projects that incorporate video, installation, performance, and photography. They often start their process by building large sets in their studio or on location. That set then becomes the stage for video and photographs with choreographed actors who activate the set in a filmed performance. The McMillan’s work is included in a concurrent exhibition at Mass MOCA entitled Explode Every Day An Inquiry into the Phenomenon of Wonder.

Don’t Shower When It Rains

Ortega y Gasset Projects is also excited to present the first project in the 2016-2017 line-up for our newly minted space The Skirt, dedicated entirely to site-specific work. Emily Kloppenburg’s site-specific installation Don’t Shower When It Rains will open to the public on August 27 and remain on view through the end of November, 2016.

Don’t Shower When It Rains levels Ortega Y Gasset Projects with the neighboring Gowanus Canal. Using the gallery’s subterranean entry vestibule as a guiding frame, the artwork immerses spectators within the adjacent body of water otherwise off-limits. The Canal is of particular significance due to the broad spectrum of distant histories and more recent developments it pertains to. Pre-war roads, expired industrial plants, Whole Foods and contemporary real estate projects all convene around a government mandated Superfund Site, constituting a vertical stratum of narratives from past to present. The project incorporates Ortega Y Gasset Projects into this topography as a means of exploring the incredible diversity, urgency and contradictions that describe thisarea of Brooklyn today.

The title of Kloppenburg’s installation derives from the advisories of Owen Foote, a local architect, city planner and lifelong New York City resident who has been leading canoe tours on the Gowanus Canal since 1999. On rainy days, excess runoff frequently pushes city sewage into surrounding bodies of water, such as New York Harbor and the Gowanus Canal, a phenomenon exacerbated by the flow of NYC tap. In response, Don’t Shower When It Rains directly addresses the actions of the individual within the city.

Using dual channel video projection and poster installation, the piece visually and geographically addresses an accumulation of urban issues encapsulated by the Gowanus, including city-wide pollution, food supply, industry and hyper-real estate development. Video footage vertically adjoins adjacent, yet disconnected elements of the Gowanus district—murky waters, oil globules, grass patches, concrete, organic raspberries, new and abandoned buildings, sand and stone—abutting a bending wall blanketed in CAUTION posters announcing the site’s toxicity. Through enclosure and submersion, the installation forces individuals to assess their personal relationship to the state of the Gowanus terrain. Rendering the invisible visible, Kloppenburg’s work probes the slippery boundaries between landscape, architecture and the city, positioning the concerns of the urban upon a fluid continuum rather than preserving them as uniquely distinct.

Emily Kloppenburg lives and works in New York, NY. She received her MFA from Columbia University in 2016, and a BA from Vassar College in 2011. Kloppenburg has exhibited at Finished Goods Warehouse (2016), Black & White Gallery Project Space (2016), The Fisher Landau Center for Art (2016), The Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery (2016 & 2015), The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University (2016), Judith Charles Gallery (2015), and ArtSpace New Haven (2014).

For inquiries about The Shifting Space Around Us:
For inquiries about Don’t Shower When it Rains:

Ortega y Gasset Projects
363 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215