Artist Shimon Attie Gets 'Lost' on the Mississippi River

By Wilson, Calvin | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), April 9, 2017 | Go to article overview

Artist Shimon Attie Gets 'Lost' on the Mississippi River


Wilson, Calvin, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


In American mythology, the Mississippi River exerts a powerful tug. And that majestic body of water figures prominently in "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," which continues to engage the American imagination.

Both the river that flows alongside St. Louis and the classic Mark Twain novel provided inspiration for "Lost in Space (After Huck)," an exhibition on view through June 25 at the St. Louis Art Museum. The site-specific multimedia installation was created by New York-based visual artist Shimon Attie for the museum's Currents series.

"I have a long history of creating artworks that in some way engage local communities," Attie said during a recent appearance at the museum. As an artist, he's interested in places where "people are fighting over who's in control, who has the power and who's marginalized."

"Those are issues and concerns that inspire me," he said. "But with art, the trick is, how do you take some of those concerns and use them only as points of departure? To then create a work that's more open-ended and has more oxygen in it, so that each person can have their own experience and have their own fantasies? That's my idea of a successful artwork."

The exhibition is curated by Hannah Klemm, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art, with Molly Moog, research assistant. Also on view through June 25 is Attie's video installation, "The Crossing," about a game of roulette with metaphorical implications.

The centerpiece of "Lost in Space" is a cast resin sculpture of a white raft that nods to Huck's picaresque adventures, on which several objects can be seen: a bundle tied to a stick, a corncob pipe, a knife, an oar, three sticks bound together and an incongruous item with a red glow that could be interpreted as either a police light or a safety siren.

The raft is surrounded by a six-channel video installation that depicts a shape-shifting night sky, complete with lightning. Standing in the gallery is like being on a moonscape.

"I usually begin projects by doing research and thinking and reflecting," Attie said. …

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