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When the Land Speaks: Nicolás Gullotta

When the Land Speaks is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates and Steven L. Bridges, Associate Curators. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Alan and Rebecca Ross endowed exhibitions fund.

December 4, 2018–December 30, 2018

About the Exhibition

In Another Voice, Nicolás Gullotta investigates the historical and political circumstances of the New England landscape, giving voice to a lake that observed the last days of a Native American tribe that inhabited its shores. Rocks from the lake are the medium through which two psychics communicate with the spirit of the lake. During the séance the lake becomes a sensitive witness, recovering the lost spaces of the traumatic colonialist past and bringing to the present visions of the Abenaki tribe’s relation to their surroundings, and the reason for their departure.

How do you give voice to a formless body of water? And how do you transpose a cognitive experience, such as a séance, into a visual one? Gullotta explores these questions in this experimental, sculptural video. Here, the screen is a technical support for the lake as it communicates visually through flashing lights. Ghost images—visual interventions depicting aerial views of the lake, the spiritualist house where the séance took place, and abstract drawings by the artist—are hidden between flashes of white and gray light, appearing and disappearing in the blink of an eye. The perceptual action of the ghost images mirrors that of the lake, which bears witness to human and natural activities that transcend our field of vision, cognitive processes, and comprehension of time.

Nicolás Gullotta (b. 1983, Buenos Aires) lives and works in Buenos Aires.

When the Land Speaks

This program presents the work of artists who explore the land as a space of conflict, which speaks through a changing, often fractured landscape. Addressing current issues such as resource extraction, sustainability, land rights, and displacement and dispossession, the works in this video series approach language as a form that does not limit itself to verbal communication. Instead, enunciation takes place in and through the territory: in the sounds and forms that water takes, in the rumbles and cracks of the earth, and in the ancestral rituals and practices derived from the landscape. In many ways, land and language have always been interconnected, each helping to define the other. But in our present day, there is a growing disconnect between much of human society and any sense of rootedness or care for the land that supports us. Confronting these realities, the artists in this series draw attention to the power of the landscape to express itself and communicate with us, and reflect on how our eroding connection to the land may also represent a fading understanding of ourselves.

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