Nancy Bowen, Eruction
SING the Body electric" are the opening words of Walt Whitman’s 1855
poem of the same title, a poem that begins with the idea of the
incorruptible wholeness of the body ("The love of the Body of man or
woman balks account — the body itself balks account"), then goes on to
celebrate in itty bitty detail many facets of many bodies, producing
what feels like a scrumptious accounting of the whole universe of
bodies. Whitman’s approach to what we might now call "imaging the body"
is a sprawling, sexy laundry list, whereas we, inhabiting the century
of CAT scans, computer imaging, Chuck Close, and Kiki Smith, may see it
all a bit differently. Whitman’s intense survey of nature’s forms is up
close and personal, but a new exhibition posits the idea that modern
methods and technologies have radically affected our perspective on the
body. "Somatic Scales," guest-curated by Patricia C. Phillips
and opening at the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts next
Friday, presents work by five artists who explore the idea of "scale" —
as in scale models, or the Richter scale — and its role in how we
picture our bodies, creating in the process a new visual taxonomy that
is as often eccentric as exact in reproducing aspects of the physical
"Somatic Scales" presents work in a variety of media.
Sculptural-installation artist Audrey Goldstein has in the past has
used an array of materials from plastic tubing to aluminum screening to
fashion complex invented networks that evoke circulatory systems,
electrical circuits, and/or blood transfusions. Nancy Bowen makes
glass, steel, and wood sculpture using scale to create analogies
between the interior landscape of the body and the exterior landscape
of what she calls "the familiar ‘lived in’ world," from pottery and
furniture to architecture. Randy Garber, Nancy Manter, and Ann Messner
also contribute to the topic, discoursing on the complexity of a notion
we tend to take for granted, that of "human scale."
If all this
sweaty physicality makes you itch to take art into your own hands,
you’re in luck. This weekend — May 28, 29 and 30 — the ubiquitous Truth
Serum Productions, described at gendertalk.com as "a program of gender
queer events by and for big-brained people in the Boston area," brings
us "Projet Mobilivre — Bookmobile Project," a big vintage
Airstream bookmobile filled with at least 300 one-of-a-kind ’zines and
artist books that travels throughout the US and Canada (hence the
bi-lingual name, non?). Presented in collaboration with four
grass-roots Boston art organizations — the Berwick Research Institute,
the Center for New Words, the Handstand Command, and Zeitgeist Gallery
— this blimpy, retro motor home is coming to a neighborhood near you
not only to bring its singular wares for your perusal but also to offer
curbside workshops. On Friday at 7 p.m., there’ll be a ’zine-making
workshop for "self-identified" women and girls at the Center for New
Words. On Saturday at 1 p.m., there’ll be an accordion-book and
flip-book workshop at Zeitgeist Gallery (all sexes welcome); Sunday at
noon brings a bookbinding workshop at the Berwick Research Institute.
All events are free, but workshop participants are encouraged to sign
up in advance at Truth Serum’s Web site, www.truthserum.org. After you’ve caught the shiny Airstream on the Web, you’ll want to see how it’s been fitted out for its artful road tour!
Scales" is at the Mills Gallery in the Boston Center for the Arts, 539
Tremont Street in the South End, June 4 through August 1, with a free
opening reception on June 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. and a gallery talk with
the curator and artists on June 5 at 1 p.m.; call (617) 426-8835.
"Projet Mobilivre — Bookmobile Project" is in Cambridge and Roxbury
from May 28 through May 30; visit www.truthserum.org for event and sign-up information.