You thought that you were alone but I caught your bullet just in time
March 5 – May 21, 2010
International Museum of Surgical Science
1524 N. Lake Shore Drive,Chicago, IL 60610
opening together with Lauren Kalman’s exhibit, “Blooms, Efflorescence, and Other Dermatological Embellishments”
Free, public reception: FRIDAY, MARCH 5 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Artists’ talk (free with Museum admission): SATURDAY, MARCH 6, 2:00 p.m.
From curator Lindsey Thieman’s beautiful writing on the show on the International Museum of Surgical Science site:
“You thought that you were alone but I caught your bullet just in time” comprises glow-in-the-dark house-of-cards structures built of interlocking cut paper pieces, each drawn upon in graphite and coated with phosphorescent paint to resemble a human or animal bone. Heckman’s intricate and tenuous skeletal structures have the potential to be broken down and rebuilt during the course of the exhibition and, due to the nature of the glow-in-the-dark paint, must be recharged on a programmed lighting cycle in order to remain visible, creating a self-enclosed system of decay, disappearance, regeneration, and re-emergence. Heckman contextualizes this installation in the tradition of European bones churches such as the Kostnice Sedlec in the Czech Republic and the Capuchin Chapel in Rome, saying, “The imagery created by the collections of carefully arranged human bones in these tremendously sad, hallucinatory burial grounds flits black and forth between flowery, ornate flourishes and gruesome, brittle remains.” As in these churches, the skeletal imagery of Heckman’s installation evokes awe at the paradoxical beauty of human mortality.
Yet the installation’s title—an earnest but impossible wish the artist dedicated to her brother shortly after his death—and the work’s specific grounding in Heckman’s personal experience of loss collapses this grand symbolism down to the mourning of a single life passing, to the level of an individual body, once animated and now reduced to pile of bones. From this singular, specific foundation, the installation is rebuilt as a memorial for the multiplicity of lives past and present that together provide a brief glimpse into the wonder of life itself. Heckman explains, “Faced with the impossibility of characterizing mortality, I look back to moments of awe to formulate a language for approaching death and loss. Looking deeply into anything with wonder is a form of re-generation and of self-abuse. I want my viewers to remake these encounters with me, to become my companions in brief confrontations with the unknown.”
More information about Heckman and her work is available at: www.annieheckman.com.