Getting Real

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Image Credit: Claudia X. Valdes, Institute for New Feeling, Lindsay Tunkl, and Emma Levitt

Getting Real

Feb 19 – Apr 17, 2016 // spector ripps project space

Emma Levitt // Lindsay Tunkl & Jennifer Moon // Claudia X. Valdes // Edie Tsong & Michael Lorenzo Lopez // Laura Reese // Jennifer Moon // Joshua Greene // Institute for New Feeling

Where does catharsis begin and end? Some artworks are born from catharsis and others aim to provoke it. Getting Real is an exhibition in which the spectrum of catharsis in art-making is explored, prodded at, and redefined. Not only do the artworks aid in this illustration, but the gallery space is transformed into a comfort zone where the audience is invited to settle in and respond earnestly.

Historically, one looked to great art to provide an emotional release – today therapy and other ‘wellness’ venues herald as the socially acceptable spaces for emotion. The word ‘catharsis’ has its roots in Greek tragedy and is commonly defined as: “the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.” The presence of sublime beauty or sadness was enough to warrant an emotional response. Today, an unmediated experience of just about anything is hard to come by, and by consequence so are the cathartic responses that correspond to ‘realness’. Places are experienced through the lens of a smartphone, identity is mediated through online platforms, and the media is mediated by the masses. Emotion is experienced behind the closed doors of the counselor. With the power of mediation – the potential to have a ‘real’ experience has become complicated and commodified. Is it possible to have a real response in the midst of so many opportunities to mediate and be mediated?

The artists in this group show approach trauma, death, intimacy, and personal growth from two ends of the spectrum. For artists Emma Levitt and Claudia X. Valdes the impetus for their projects was a personal trauma. Their intention was not necessarily to heal the pain, but finding a place from which to begin addressing larger issues of loss and historical trauma. Lindsay Tunkl and Edie Tsong connect with their audiences directly through a series of performative acts that ask for public engagement and invite a cathartic response. Both artists engage their audience on a one-on-one level that combines both counseling and performative elements.

Public programs accompanying the exhibition include pre-apocalyptic counseling sessions, paper-making with the New Mexico Art Therapy Association (NMATA), psychologist-led gallery tours, a panel discussion on historical trauma and contemporary art, and more.