artists & participants
In an event held within the 42nd Mostra Internacional de Cinema in São Paulo, CineSesc, one of the most traditional stand-alone movie theaters in the city, is inaugurating its newest annex with the installation Chalkroom, created by Laurie Anderson (USA, 1947), a renowned experimental multimedia artist of worldwide influence, in collaboration with Taiwanese researcher and artist Hsin-Chien Huang (Taiwan, 1966), a key figure of the technological avant-garde in the visual arts and cinema. After receiving the prize for best experience in virtual reality at the 74th Venice International Film Festival in 2017, the installation is now being presented to the public of Brazil, in a further initiative carried out in partnership with Sesc São Paulo.
Chalkroom is an interdisciplinary work in virtual reality, in which it is possible to wander through enormous structures made of words, drawings, stories, dust and shadows, in a gallery consisting of various corridors, ramps and dark constructions whose black walls are covered by inscriptions in white chalk. Once immersed, the spectator is free to stroll through the environments. The words wander through the spaces, arise and break apart in the air; they are reconstructed and re-signified through the interaction of the visiting public.
The universe created by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang is a library of stories. In the words of the artist: “No one will ever find them all.” And she adds: “Never. They are hidden in very, very weird places.” In the work, the poetic construction of the artwork is part of various forms of expression: from cinema to virtual reality, from poetry to experimental music.
Throughout the last year, the installation was presented at MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), in the USA, where it is still running, at the Louisiana Literature Festival, held by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, at Humlebæk (Denmark), at Taipei Museum of Fine Arts, in Taiwan, and at the 74th Venice International Film Festival, Italy.
In Chalkroom, sometimes the letters float toward the spectator like snowflakes, defining the space, filling it with fractured languages, the residues of a sort of explosion. They look like narratives or poems that break apart or which are slowly reconstructed, in a continuous exercise of branching, progression and infinitude. Distinct environments invite the spectator to experience different forms of interaction: drawing, sculpting, exploring tridimensionality, or simply flying—as in a dream.
In this oneiric and solitary journey through stories and fragments of languages, the echoing voice of artist Laurie Anderson—who is also a singer-songwriter—poses questionings and provocations. Together with the sound design, her speech shelters the spectator, without prescribing the experience or urging any sort of action. The proposal is for the viewer to become visually and cognitively dazzled, without necessarily having to do anything specific there inside.
There is, however, a permanent feeling of freedom that pervades the artist’s work. “Every single thing I’ve ever done, whether it’s a piece of music or a drawing, it’s about one thing. It’s about disembodiment. It’s about losing your body,” Laurie explains.
The spaces of the new annex of CineSesc—a unit of the Sesc São Paulo network since 1979, located on the famous Rua Augusta, just two blocks from Avenida Paulista—were enveloped with the art of the installation, and one of the walls was transformed into a large blackboard for visitors to draw on, in the physical world, after experiencing the virtual work. Therefore, for three months, the local public will have the possibility to get to know the work developed by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang.