Finding Intimacy Through Contemporary Art
Liz Nurenberg’s “Body, Object, Body, Mark” at Eastside International
Written by Kristine Schomaker
In our fast paced, electronically-tethered, cyber-immersed culture, we lose focus on intimacy, affection, closeness and what it means to be human. We find it easier to stay connected through electronics than to meet people in person. Liz Nurenberg’s “Body, Object, Body, Mark” creates an interactive space for people to experience the body in multiple and differing ways.
Visitors who attend the show alone may find themselves in potentially awkward close-quarters interactions with strangers, as several of the sculptures are intended to be used by multiple people in tandem. The experience may be awkward, not because of the work, but because in the 21st century we have lost the ability to be physically social. Our online lives have an invisible space that keeps everyone at arm’s length. While the friendships and relationships become real, they are not physical.
The awkwardness of having to interact with people in real time and real space sheds light on just how much we avoid this. The objects Nurenberg created are stand-ins for space, touch, sense, wonder. They are also a bridge from the physical to the emotional, mental intimacy for which we all yearn, crave, need.
Each ‘station’ in Nurenberg’s exhibition includes an instructional drawing of how the objects are to be used. Similar to gym equipment, the objects have a specific purpose and are meant to work different social “muscle” groups. A roundish object that you are meant to hold in front of you as if in a ‘hug’ offers another stand in for that misplaced intimacy.
Nurenberg has turned the gallery into an immersive experience by covering the floors with a white mat. All of the objects in the space are white as are the drawings that fade in and out making us focus our attention more succinctly. The laboratory effect helps us consider each experiment and experience more completely. The marks that are left on the floor from our shoes along with temporary indentations in the pillow-like objects are examples of a fleeting moment of closeness with our own body or that of other humans. These are easily cleaned up or slowly pop back into place after the physical body has left.
Nurenberg’s work is important at a time when our emotions are driven by the media, where there is no eye contact, no connection, no inflections, only words and trust. The exhibition is also important in learning to own your body, your space and taking authorship and ownership of who you are.
The exhibition will be on view at Eastside International through November 26th with gallery hours beginning Saturday October 29th, Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 PM.