Published January 17, 2017
The UB Art Galleries’ Screen Projects public art video initiative continues in the spring semester with two videos on view in the Center for the Arts.
“The Square (After Roberto Lopardo),” a 2004 video by artist Lilly McElroy, is on view now through Feb. 5; on Feb. 6, “Come Back to Jamaica,” artist Andrea Chung’s 2009 video, will open and run through March 12. Both video installations are located outside the second floor gallery of the UB Art Gallery in the hallway across from the elevator.
The Arizona-born McElroy plays with moments of fear, anxiety and excitement within much of her work. In “The Square (After Roberto Lopardo),” she defends her territory within a chalk outline of a square in downtown Chicago.
The camera filming the artist is not hidden from passersby. People on the street see the camera and McElroy, and as they get closer, the outline of the square. While some walk by and avoid connecting with the artist, others engage in her game, either by complying with her body and avoiding the square or testing her and trying to enter into her so-called personal space.
At one point, another woman enters the square and helps McElroy defend the space.
“I like it when artists can maintain a sense of play and experimentation over a long career, and allow themselves to make mistakes,” McElroy has said.
While this work is primarily conceptual, there is most certainly a sense of play, as the artist addresses the idea of protecting personal space literally.
The San Diego-based Chung’s work explores the intersection of colonial and post-colonial regimes within contemporary culture.
In “Come Back to Jamaica,” Chung takes on a tourist advertisement about “coming back to Jamaica.” Actors ask viewers to return to Jamaica — “come back to tranquility, come back to hospitality, come back to our people, come back to the way things used to be” — while a theme song plays in the background: “We made it for you, make it your own, your new island home.”
In her version, Chung whites out the black actors and leaves only the various backgrounds they are promoting — polo, fishing, dancing and lavish, bountiful meals. By redacting the black body within the commercial, Chung is asking the viewer to question the narrative of this romantic notion of Jamaica, specifically when it comes to class, labor and white-washing difficult truths.
The UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday.
Admission is free.