Thursday, December 11, 2008

Visible and Invisible

Tiffany Besonen's collage incorporating a fragment of my poem " I am Smoke When I Can Be" is currently touring with the show "The Veil: Visible and Invisible Spaces" (Tiffany's collage is on the right in this photo--2 panels). I visited the show in Milwaukee, and I recommend it highly. The exhibit will be traveling around the US until 2011. It is though-provoking and moving. The show's curator, Jennifer Heath, has this to say about the exhibit:

Visible and Invisible Spaces intends to engage received wisdom about the veil - particularly current clich├ęs and stereotypes about Islamic practices - and to reflect on the great ubiquity, importance and profundity of the veil throughout human history and imagination. Visible and Invisible Spaces asks artists to investigate the veil in its broadest contexts. The exhibition will be divided into three categories to be interpreted widely: The Sacred Veil, The Sensuous Veil , and The Sociopolitical Veil. Visible and Invisible Spaces, however, is not a documentary exhibition.

Visible and Invisible Spaces is a visual companion to Jennifer Heath's edited volume, The Veil: Women Writers on Its History, Lore, and Politics (University of California Press, forthcoming 2008). The exhibition invited visual artists - including videographers, filmmakers and new media artists, as well as painters, sculptors, performance and installation artists - from around the world to investigate and re-vision the veil.

The veil is infinitely visual, yet it is also a means of concealment. The veil is itself mystery, even as it is the shroud that guards the mystery. Veiling is found everywhere and begins in Nature - such as eclipses and the periodic shedding of animals' outer bodily layer (feathers, skin, fur or horn) before re-growth. As much as the veil is fabric or a garment, the veil is also a concept. Veils can be illusion, divination, vanity, artifice, architecture, clothing, hair, deception, curtains, magic, alchemy and transformation, dream, euphemism and metaphor, depression, hallucination, masquerade, beauty, eloquent silence, holiness, birth, liberation, imprisonment. Veils are the ethers beyond consciousness, the hidden hundredth name of god, the final passage into death, even the biblical apocalypse - the lifting of god's veil to signal the "end times."

To be veiled is, to some degree, to be unseen, the condition of both great attraction and repulsion. The artists featured in Visible and Invisible Spaces will speak to these myriad aspects of the veil and more.

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