Monday, 16 April 2007

Gazira Babeli at Exhibit A

Written by Plurabelle Posthorn
This article is also posted at the Virtual Artist Alliance blog.
Monday 16th of April Gazira Babelis exhibition [Collateral Damage] opened at the Odyssey Island at the Exhibit A Gallery, in Second Life. It's a retrospective show, but there are also many brand new pieces made for this exhibition.
On the occation of this exhibition (of one of the best SL-artist according to Plurabelle Posthorn), there has been written a long and good article: Gaz', Queen of the Desert by Domenico Quaranta, where you'll find a lot of information, viewpoints of Gaziras art projects and some good links for further reading. You'll find the press release for the exhibition HERE.

Two pieces made for this exhibition are called U are here. They are exactly what my humanist friends asked for a couple of weeks ago:
Doc: Now if you could just touch the paintings and travel into their world... sort of a Third Life in Second Life.
Here you can touch the sculptures and be transported into it.
It's raining in the desert. It's because the umbrella is there.
From Domenico Quarantas article:
Created on occasion of the exhibition [Collateral Damage], U Are Here (April 2007) consists in two sculptures which violate the pact of trust implicit in the practice of teleporting. Or rather, they represent an overly-literal application of the latter. The sculptures are two simple models on pedestals: the first represents a desert with some archeological ruins, the other a room with a window we can peep into to see what’s inside: a banal-looking office with a clock, a desk and a computer. By clicking on the models we are transported into the setting in question: an arid, apparently infinite desert, or a closed room with no way out. Have we been shrunk or just taken hostage inside a “real” version of the setting represented by the two sculptures?
-excerpt from "Gaz', Queen of the Desert" by Domenico Quaranta

Below, a beautiful creature with blue wings is being deformed by one of Gaziras Avatar on Canvas, a series of three Francis Bacon paintings appropriations, where the main figure has been replaced by a three-dimensional scripted chair. I've always wished my neck was a bit longer.

Below: This is Nudes descending a staircase, also a new piece. Just recently Tasrill Sieyes made an avatar looking like Marcel Duchamps Nude descending a staircase. Gazira lets canvases with nudes fall of the wall and arrange themselves randomly as they fall down a staircase. Some of the paintings are SL nudes, and as far as I could see, it looks like Cicciolina has got a Second Life too.
Once a nude is kicked down from the wall, a new one rezzes. It's like a nightmare. Nudes, nudes, nudes. They are deposited and finally disappears, but there will always be new nudes. A never-ending stream of nudes descending staircases.

Cd_grey goo , picture above. Gaziras black full bright hat on a pedestal. Notecard tells you to click on it. You do and the whole gallery is filled with question marks or bananas (the banana created by Andy Warhol for the cover of The Velvet Underground’s first LP) or Super Marios.

In October 2006 a minor apocalypse hit a beach in Second Life, burying it under a flood of skipping Super Marios. In technical jargon this is called “grey goo”, an expression used in nanotechnology and science fiction to describe a hypothetical apocalyptic scenario in which self-replicating robots consume all living matter on the earth. Although the cataclysm did generate a certain level of anxiety, Gazira appears to be more interested in setting off a mental short circuit than a genuine system collapse. This was why she populated the three-dimensional, baroque world of Second Life with the definitive icon of the 8-bit era.
-excerpt from "Gaz', Queen of the Desert" by Domenico Quaranta
The exhibition is loaded with art and pop cultural references. Gazira is working very much with appropriations. Quaranta's article is also full of references. Namedropping? (I had my head cut of once, for namedropping. I'm still a litle sore. ) Whether it could be called namedropping in this case I can't tell for sure. If it is, is it bad? Well, I love all the reference stuff in Gaziras work. It's fun, humorous, raw.

Here comes a piece also using Andy Warhols art with a special Second Life twist to it...

-: You love Pop Art - Pop Art hates you! :-
Second Soup, performed in May 2006 (and recorded on video), sees Gazira tackling a giant can of Campbell’s soup, another pop art icon. The artist is looking at it on a poster, when all of a sudden the can leaves its paper domain and grabs hold of her. From that moment on she just can’t get rid of it. Gazira jumps, flies and runs, but the can always catches up with her. Pop art as an irksome deity, a cumbersome legacy that we just can’t seem to shed?
In [Collateral Damage], Second Soup is presented as an installation of 5 soup cans that are activated when the spectator gets too close.
- excerpt from "Gaz',Quenn of the Desert"by Domenico Quaranta
Soupcans trying to eat you, or trying to can you as Second soup. The issue of food. Food in Second Life is absurd. To eat or drink or smoke is totally without meaning. But soup we are. (Why is it so hard to do something original? Why all this reenacting of real life. Are we afraid of letting it go? Afraid of loosing contact with this thing called real life? It's like some sort of Second Life religion; believing that another life is possible, after this one is logged off. )

The "Don't say: New Media" piece...
A black cloud with form of a drop or is it a quotation mark on the floor. Hoovering text: Dont say: new media. Of couse you say: new media. Everybody say new media, new media, they write new media, say new media. I never say new media. How does it feel to say new media?
You: new media
: Plurabelle Posthorn.. Don't Say NEW MEDIA!
: Plurabelle Posthorn.. Say Sorry
: Plurabelle Posthorn.. Say Sorry!
: Plurabelle Posthorn.. Say Sorry!
You: Sorry!
(I'm never going to say it again. Exception: I'll say it to Gaziras "Don't say: New Media" piece...)

Buy Gaz' 4 one Linden!
The full outfit that makes the Gazira Babeli avatar (minus her skin) for sale: 1L$! So if you go to a slingo, work as a window washer, or rides the steam train at the Caledon SIM, and you think you recognize this characteristic figure dressed in black with dark glasses and a flexi top hat as Gazira Babeli, it's probably not her. Not after 16th of April 2007. It could be me, it could be anybody. It might very well be me, because I felt very comfortable in the Gazira outfit, this lovely female body shape all in black.

Now, this exhibition is full of adventure and lots of inspiration for other SL artists I would think. Many of Gaziras scripts can be found on her website free for us to try out in our own art experiments.
Just some words about:

Come Together (April 2007). Picture above. If you click on one of the pose balls you will start to dance or make other movements up on the pedestal. Hopefully someone will join you and you will get very intimate, even luckier; you may experience a treesome, a fivesome... No, of course this is not about sex, it's about sculpture. You have to make the sculpture yourself, like in the Avatar on canvas, you are becoming art or a part of Gaziras art work. Come Together for a random composite sculpture. There will be no art without you. (Could also be a reference for the SL group tool called Come Together...)
Example of composite avatar sculptures below, with the creator Gazira in the midst of us somewhere. It does not hurt at all to be intersected by other avatars. And nobody even mind you letting out a fart.

Some avatars are developing their physical relationship on other terms, like Wirxli here and his adoptive avatar daughter Fwwixli.

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