Through March 12, 2011
Sculptor and video artist Christy Gast is known for conflating the landscape and the body (often her own) through folk performance conventions. For the video installation Herbert Hoover Dyke, she manipulates the literal point of connection between a performer and eponymous landscape to produce percussive song, documented by extended still shots. In it the artist tap dances around the perimeter of Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s inland sea, via the Herbert Hoover Dike – a 30 foot high earthen berm that keeps the lake from freely flowing into the Everglades and South Florida’s suburban expanses.
Taking advantage of the engineering conventions adorning this 140 mile-long social sculpture, she taps out an assortment of rhythms on a ribbon of crunching gravel and asphalt, plinking steel grates and barrier gates, reverberating water tanks and a confounding array of limestone columns jutting from the slope. This feat of environmental engineering – derided by environmentalists but essential to several communities – is transformed into a colossal stage, its parts reconceptualized as ready-made musical instruments. It appears that crows, egrets and vultures are the only witnesses as the lone tuxedoed figure stomps, leaps and shuffles resolutely through the not-quite-natural landscape.
Access to the single-channel video projection is constrained by a monumental, sloping, terraced sculptural element jutting into the project space. Part minimalist sculpture and part water control structure, this folly holds a display of sculptural props either present in the video or made of materials the artist collected from communities around the Herbert Hoover Dike. These totemic objects resemble canes, protest signs, costumes and bouquets, all regalia associated with pageantry or spectacle of some sort when activated by the human form.
For past projects, Gast has performed as a mermaid on a trapeze (The Last Mermaid of Florida 2000), taken an inflatable landscape on tour (Left Mitten/ The Great Denudation 2004), written and recorded a cappella folk ballads (Female Soldier Ballads 2005) and conducted an interpretive performance around a sculptural monument to Hollow Earth theorists (The Earth We Inhabit 2009). This is her first time tap dancing. Deeply invested in the role of landscape in both art history and politics, most of the artist’s large-scale projects start with the notion of “public land,” in both practical and romantic senses.
Gast has exhibited at museums and galleries internationally, including Artist’s Space, MoMA/P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and Harris Lieberman Gallery in New York; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions and High Desert Test Sites in California; Gallery Diet, Miami Art Museum and the Bass Museum of Art in Miam; Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich; and Centro Cultural Matucana 100 in Santiago, Chile. Her installation Untitled (Emptied Signifiers) will be on view at Pulse Contemporary Art Fair during Art Basel Miami Beach. Gast is represented by Gallery Diet in Miami.
De la Cruz Collection
23 NE 41st Street
Miami, FL 33137