Commonality in Experience: San Diego’s Wonderspaces 2019
Wonderspaces, San Diego
through September 1
By Evan Senn
Experiential artwork is having a very popular moment in contemporary art. With ongoing political and personal upheavals around every corner, it’s no wonder—we’re trying to connect to something, something greater than ourselves, to find motivation to keep our hearts and minds active and engaged in the beautiful aspects of this world. With experiential artwork, we can forget about the atrocities in the world for a moment, as we experience the world in our physical bodies, connect to other people, and relish in the creativity of the human mind.
Wonderspaces is an organization that curates, produces and manages exhibitions under its name. Through travelling exhibitions and repurposed exhibition spaces, Wonderspaces is expanding the idea of what art can be and enhancing the reach of the artists and artworks it supports. With a goal of reaching a wide and diverse community and expanding high-end experiential artworks to a non-art world audience base, Wonderspaces is also exploring how to make art more accessible. First setting up shop in San Diego, in a repurposed downtown cruise ship terminal, they have since expanded to include sister exhibitions in a centrally-located mall in Scottsdale, Arizona and a warehouse complex in Austin, Texas, providing year-round exhibition programming.
The type of art that Wonderspaces exhibits is art for everyone and anyone. As an organization, it focuses on artwork that promotes an in-the-present-moment attitude, and requires no formal education to understand. In its third round of large-scale exhibitions in San Diego, Wonderspaces presents In Common, an exhibition of thirteen experiential artworks by thirteen artists from all over the world. Each artwork includes technology in interesting ways, and claims to explore how people are shaped by their experiences, environments and relationships.
Last year’s Wonderspaces event in San Diego, With Creative License, drew more than 178,000 visitors while it was on view. Since then, Wonderspaces has also opened up a permanent exhibition space in Arizona, titled Wonderspaces Arizona. Unlike last year’s San Diego exhibition, this year’s “In Common” does not successfully stop visitors in their tracks with awe and amazement. Although each artwork experience is different from one another, not all are impressive. Unfortunately, if you attended last year’s Wonderspaces or the previous year’s Wonderspaces, this year’s will be a bit of a let-down.
With thirteen different experiences, only five or six really set themselves apart with fascinating use of creativity, technology, and an awe-inspiring experience for visitors. One of the first successful works you experience as you enter Wonderspaces is Myrkviðr by Japanese artist Yasuhiro Chida. A simple installation utilizing the trickery of light and reflection, Chida has created a room that simulates a starfield, with a rising sun off in the distance.
“Experiment 2.C” by Dan Goods & David Delgado of the Museum of Awe is a similar experience of simulated atmosphere but with a colorful sea of clouds at waist height, making viewers feel as though they are flying high above the sky at varying times of day. Although contained away from the touch of visitors, it is a fascinating and serene piece.
“Harmony of Spheres” by Foo/Skou, “We Are All Made of Light” by Maja Petric, and “Intersection” by Don Ritter are the other stand-out pieces in the exhibition. Foo/Skou allows visitors to craft a choral ensemble determined by the visitors’ touch with Harmony of Spheres. Maja Petric helps people to see their reflections projected in colorful tiny lights in We Are All Made of Light. Alternatively, Don Ritter leads visitors into a metaphor for fear as they are invited to blindly cross through a simulated busy traffic intersection in Intersection.