Review: Miami Art Museum Ventures into "The Wilderness"

Categories: Art
Allan McCollum's The Event
Anchoring "The Wilderness," Miami Art Museum's provocative group exhibit, is McCollum's sprawling installation, The Event: Petrified Lightning From Central Florida (With Supplemental Didactics) (1998), which takes over the center gallery. To create his jaw-dropping opus, the New York-based artist teamed up with geologists and electrical engineers from the University of Florida's International Center for Lightning Research and Testing during several weeks in the summer of 1997.

At the facility -- called Camp Blanding, located near the small town of Starke, considered the lightning capital of the world -- McCollum and his collaborators used small rockets to trigger lightning strikes. Their missiles had copper wires attached, directing the lightning bolts to containers filled with sand. When lightning zapped the wires, the jolt vaporized the sand, creating a small glass object called a fulgurite.

McCollum then had a souvenir company make 10,000 replicas of a single fulgurite. They are arranged in a mammoth display not far from one of the red rockets the artist used to draw the lightning strikes. The mass-produced fulgurites are identical: beige, cigar-size, and crooked.

Christy Gast - Batty Cave.jpg
In a nearby space, New Times Mastermind Award-winner Christy Gast's Batty Cave (2010) is a room-engulfing three-channel video installation that conjures the tale of two Western crackpots who build an ark in a desert cave to escape the apocalypse.

While visiting Utah, Gast discovered a ramshackle vessel that, according to local legend, was built during the '50s by hobos fearing that the construction of a dam on the Colorado River would disturb the natural order and provoke a flood of biblical proportions.

Gast's film captures the decrepit remnants of the would-be ark, the rusted hulks of abandoned cars found in the cave, and the artist's hands assembling found artifacts such as glass shards, rusted metal, and other objects in ritualistic patterns evocative of pictographs. As one watches the artist's rhythmically shuffling hands creating strange totemic story lines, Gast's altered voice pierces the room in a haunting echo, heightening the mysterious nature of the projection.

Equally uncanny is Darren Almond's creepy video installation, Arctic Pull (2003), which features the solitary figure of a man pulling a sled in the pitch darkness of a driving Siberian blizzard.

Read the full review here.

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Location Info


Miami Art Museum - CLOSED

101 W. Flagler St., Miami, FL

Category: General

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