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Exhibition at Saint Louis Art Museum features new work by Shimon Attie
Untitled video still from “Lost in Space (After Huck)”, 2017; Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York © Shimon Attie.

ST. LOUIS, MO.- The Saint Louis Art Museum presents new work by Shimon Attie in Lost in Space (After Huck), the 113th installment of the museum’s popular Currents series. The free exhibition is on view in Gallery 210 from April 1 through June 25.

Attie creates multimedia works that shine a light on what has been lost, buried, or forgotten through visual and sonic experiences. In his early career, he created works that reanimated the lost history of specific public spaces—from projections on the facades of the former Jewish Quarter in Berlin and tenements in Lower Manhattan, to underwater light boxes in a canal in Copenhagen.

In St. Louis, he created an immersive multi-media environment comprised of a large-scale sculpture surrounded by a six-channel video projection and audio soundtrack.

Lost in Space (After Huck) consists of a white cast epoxy resin sculpture of a raft populated by several objects indicating human presence: a knife, a corn-cob pipe, an oar, some sticks tied at the top, and a bindle bag. The raft and its rustic objects evoke a bygone era, in particular, that of Mark Twain’s 1884 novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But another item sticks out in this surreal scene—a police light sitting atop the raft, softly glowing red and drawing viewers into an awareness of the contemporary moment.

An immersive video installation surrounds the raft. The footage—featuring clusters of lights periodically disrupted by a flash of lightning—was actually taken from NASA satellites at night, capturing patterns of light that are emitted from urban areas.

“Attie’s installation establishes a purposeful ambiguity, creating a symbolic space where meanings from the past can be examined alongside important socio-political issues of the present,” said Hannah Klemm, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art. “With this wondrous environment, Attie overlaps multiple imaginaries and realities: contemporary lived space with romanticized depictions of nature, urban spaces with rural ones, and the celestial sphere with the terrestrial, man-made world.”

Born in Los Angeles in 1957, Attie’s work has been included in several solo shows, including at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus in 2013, the de Young Museum of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in 2008, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in 1999-2000.

The New York-based artist is the 2016-2017 Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Fellow. Supported by the Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Endowment Fund, Freund Fellowships promote the exhibition and acquisition of contemporary art at the Saint Louis Art Museum, as well as the teaching of contemporary art principles in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Each fellowship consists of two month-long residencies, during which recipients teach in the Sam Fox School and prepare an exhibition for the museum’s Currents series.

In addition to the Currents exhibition, Attie’s 2017 video The Crossing debuted in St. Louis as part of the museum’s New Media Series. The video is on view in Gallery 301 from March 24 through June 25.

Shot in a former casino, The Crossing positions several Syrian refugees around a roulette table at the start of a game. One by one, in a series of slow-motion tableaux, the figures silently disappear from the game. According to Attie, “The Crossing reflects the extraordinary risks migrants are forced to take in times of crisis, literally gambling for their lives.”

Both exhibitions are curated by Klemm, with research assistant Molly Moog.

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