‘Uncanny’ art exhibit displays bizarre, abstract and imaginative world
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 22:09
Normally, an art gallery displays pieces that highlight the natural beauty of reality. Unless that is, the title of the show is “Uncanny.” In that case, a viewer should expect to see a world unlike ours, a place of bizarre imagination cloaked in mystery. The UConn Contemporary Art Gallery captured just this in the featured show, “Uncanny.” The show ran throughout the day on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Students glanced freely and participated in professor-led walk-throughs to learn about the unmistakably different-looking art. Barry Rosenberg is a professor at UConn, and co-curator of the gallery. Rosenberg worked with student Micah Sizemore to create “Uncanny.” While he says he doesn’t normally work with students, Sizemore pitched the idea to Rosenberg and they worked together to bring it to life. When discussing the show, Rosenberg stated, “Everything about the show is a little off kilter.” And upon hearing the word “odd” to describe the art, Rosenberg follows up with, “That’s a good word, odd, that’s what we’re looking for.”
“Uncanny” is the English translation of the German word, “unheimlich.” It is a modification of “Heimlich,” meaning homey and familiar. Sigmund Freud’s 1919 essay “Dos Unheimliche” explains that the uncanny is a class of frightening which leads back to what is known and long familiar. Freud was certainly right, the art reaches an untouched fear, taking what is known and accepted and twisting it to the grotesque. All of the artists are famous for taking the norm and adding on the unexpected, creating a distorted reality. Uncertainty meets fascination in this collection, perfectly mixing together to create a state of suspension between the real and the unreal.
Upon first entering the studio, a viewer is greeted by Tony Matelli’s “Sleepwalker.” The sculpture is an almost-too-real interpretation of a sleepwalking man. At first a viewer might laugh in delightful surprise at the sight of this man in underwear. Quickly, the light-heartedness ends, and the outstretched bony fingers reach into personal space. The statue challenges the viewer’s security of their own self, causing a shifting uneasiness to those in its path.
This particular piece is a favorite of Josh Allen-Silvia, a 3rd-semester art student. Allen-Silvia’s interest is in sculpture, and says the detail in “Sleepwalker” is what attracts him. “It’s so hyper-realistic, everything is thought out. The skin is tanned, the fingernails are trimmed.”
Deeper in, the gallery only gets more unsettling. Three photographs of children are hung in a row, each depicting a child in a different setting. The artist, Loretta Lux, first takes a photo of the child, and then places that photo into a wildly unexpected setting that makes the viewer cringe. The boy in “Hopper” is seated inside a classroom. But nowhere in the photograph is there an alphabet poster, pencil sharpener or box of crayons. Only a lone dirty sink juts out of the wall.
Another 3rd-semester art student Mary Rose Fiondella describes as she glances on, “It’s like something eerie is walking through here.” With all of the mystery surrounding “Uncanny,” there is one thing for certain; that the UConn Contemporary Art Gallery delivered something special with this one.