Contemporary Reactions: Contemporary Spaces

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The New Genres Gallery series Cultural Cartographies: Mapping Man-Made Interventions in Contemporary Landscapes focuses on the usage of still image and filmmaking to explore how myriad interventions (political, environmental, industrial, etcetera) inform our understanding of the social and natural environments that surround us. The New Genres Gallery series is now on its fifth and final installation Guido van der Werve’s Nummer Acht, Everything is going to be alright (2007).

Elizabeth Belle, a Utah native currently working at the Bountiful/Davis Art Center, was drawn in by both the aesthetic and message-driven aspects of Nummer Acht.



“The exhibit is exquisite,” Belle described. “It’s very moving and thought-provoking. The film’s sound engineering definitely lends to its overall message and subject matter.”

In the film, the Dutch filmmaker walks slowly on thin ice off the Gulf of Bothnia, 32 feet ahead of a moving 3,500 ton icebreaker. The 10-minute long, single shot film is both conceptually nerve-wracking yet visually calming, all while the sound of the icebreaker roars deafeningly around you. Van der Werve pulls at the sensation of something enormous and unyielding as he, though tiny and frail-looking, continues steadily on his way. The story pinpoints, in an honest manner, the dilemmas that accompany relentless progress. The artist appears fearless, but his moxie stems from a place of need at the intersection of ‘art’ and ‘catastrophe.’

For some, the film is alarming. But for others, like Belle, there’s a positive light—a sense of steadfastness—to the artist’s walk in the film.

“Being followed by an enormous ship with ice breaking behind you, but moving forward into a realization that everything is going to be okay, is very meaningful,” Belle explained.

Belle continued on to describe why she always finds her way back to UMOCA. After working for a number of years at a boutique in New York City’s Chelsea Gallery District, she was used to being surrounded by contemporary works and artists at the forefront of their generation. Now, most of the art Belle encounters is more “suburban-based” and more traditional. Smiling, Belle explained that everything about UMOCA reminds her of going in and out of the Gallery District.

“UMOCA always brings me back to that cutting-edge art,” Belle said.

Cultural Cartographies: Mapping Man-Made Interventions in Contemporary Landscapes will be on display in the New Genres Gallery through January 15, 2015.