“Two people together is a work, heroic in its ordinariness,” wrote American poet Adrienne Rich in “The Dream for a Common Language.” Rich suggests that maintaining interpersonal relationships is an underexplored aspect of life’s persistent work. The energy and effort required to tend to stimulating yet fragile relationships is part of the ongoing work of healing – a process of reconciling with desire and loss that we do with others.
Our lives are spent making sense of our subject and object worlds and undergoing perpetual incarnations, often as a result of new epistemological ways of knowing and living with grief, pain, and shifting power relations. With compromise and acceptance as central tenants, reconciliation is the method by which individual and collective healing may begin. Heroic in its ordinariness asks what methods and values are found between narratives of victimhood or triumph that are nevertheless enduring feats.
This incessant dynamic of ongoing pain, residual anger, and attempts at healing calls to the fore an array of effective and artistic imperatives that give texture to what complex processes of reconciling feel like. This project includes film, sound, performance, sculpture, print, and text to compose a shape of restorative, ritualistic practices of collective healing as well as individual palliative forms. It’s informed by performative refusal through counter-narratives, mapping material realities of relational lineages through emphasis on environment and artifact, and enacting and documenting accountability in events of relationships. None of these are ever irreducible processes, but unfold and expand to affect others, often materializing or living on in literature and art. The materials included in Heroic in its ordinariness explore access, support, and redistribution methods as tools for liberation. They furthermore confront legacies of racist violence in the US South through architectural vernacular and performance and consider the Florida Everglades in particular as an ongoing archive of post-colonial and environmental struggles. Other works share representational and abstract forms of vital yet fragile bonds within both family and coalition. Finally, the exhibition is accompanied by a letter to art historian and curator Rizvana Bradley, which serves as an epistolary essay about psychosocial processes of reconciliation.
On Jan. 18 the group exhibition “Heroic in its ordinariness” will open with a reception at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum from 5 – 8pm. The exhibit is curated by Staci Bu Shea with Crisp-Ellert Director Julie Dickover. It features work from Elizabeth Atterbury, Beverly Buchanan, Taraneh Fazeli, Feminist Health Care Research Group, Carolyn Lazard, Redeem Pettaway, Falke Pisano, and Sasha Wortzel. The exhibit runs through Feb. 21.
The opening reception will begin at 5pm with an exhibition walkthrough with Staci Bu Shea, followed by a 6pm performance by Redeem Pettaway.
Staci Bu Shea organizes exhibitions, researches and writes about ruminations, processes and representations of social life in art, institutions, social movements, and the everyday. Bu Shea is the curator at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, an Utrecht-based institute that cultivates and presents art practices based on “study lines” with and for the commons alongside communities in the field of art, education, and activism.
Bu Shea graduated from the Center of Curatorial Studies at Bard College and curated “Emphasis Repeats” at Hessel Museum of Art. Most recently, Bu Shea was co-curator of Barbara Hammer’s retrospective “Evidentiary Bodies” at Leslie Lohman Museum.
The exhibit follows the themes of Bu Shea’s residency at Crisp-Ellert Art Museum in spring 2017.