2021 Parrish Road Show off-site exhibition series presents 'Darlene Charneco: Symbiosome Schoolhouse'

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2021 Parrish Road Show off-site exhibition series presents 'Darlene Charneco: Symbiosome Schoolhouse'
Darlene Charneco, Mutual MedicineFlower, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

WATER MILL, NY.- For the tenth season of its offsite exhibition series Parrish Road Show, the Parrish Art Museum invited East End-based Latinx artist Darlene Charneco (American, b. 1971) to create a site-specific exhibition at Oysterponds Historical Society in Orient, on the North Fork of Long Island. The multi-dimensional installation Symbiosome Schoolhouse extends the artist’s life-long practice of examining human settlements, forms of interaction, and evolution through a biological lens. On view in both the Old Point Schoolhouse and on the Historical Society grounds, the exhibition features newly created works, largely made while Charneco was in residency at the William Steeple Davis Trust in Orient. Symbiosome Schoolhouse presents works on paper, sculpture, and video, as well as the artist’s signature wall reliefs which she calls Touchmaps.

Organized by Corinne Erni, Senior Curator of ArtsReach and Special Projects, in collaboration with the Oysterponds Historical Society, Symbiosome Schoolhouse is on view Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from August 28th until October 24th, 2021.

Charneco is immersed in symbiosis research: she observes the natural world and studies symbiotic evolution. Indeed, she considers her practice an ongoing contemplation of “Symmathesy,” a term coined by writer/educator Nora Bateson that means “learning together.” The exhibition’s title refers to these phenomena, as well as the ways in which the tactile, “real world” collides with virtual spaces of learning. Bringing all these investigations together, Charneco’s work explores multiple layers of time and space. It addresses how species—individually and in groups—adapt, adjust, and shift spaces (symbiosomes) to learn how to better connect and support one another across distances.

Symbiosome Schoolhouse includes new iterations of the artist’s ongoing series Weaves and Touchmaps, which are mixed-media, map-based wall reliefs that explore and navigate the layered spaces that humans and all planetary species inhabit. The large-scale, three-dimensional, patterned Touchmaps are designed to orient, sense, and express a world that shifts and changes through ever-expanding communication networks. Charneco has developed her own tactile language of artmaking—such as hammering nails into wooden panels in a meditative process she describes as “renewing determination and rippling out positive hopes for humanity.” Several Touchmaps, wall-sculpture weaves, and SymbiosisStudies—a group of mixed-media works on paper—will be on view in the Schoolhouse.

Many of the mixed-media and sculptural works in Symbiosome Schoolhouse combine clusters of familiar structures in both material and virtual worlds. Charneco visualizes these spaces as part of adaptive living systems, what she refers to as a “Self-Assembling MemoryPalace”—memories that are collectively created and more readily accessible. Her immersive virtual-world installation features avatars that move among buildings resembling a library and the Old Point Schoolhouse. The 3-minute and 14-second video loop was developed through the technique of machinima—using real-time, computer graphics animation engines. Finally, in a free-standing sculpture on the Schoolhouse lawn visible from the road, Charneco aggregated small wood and concrete structures—abstracted dwellings, portals, and building blocks that evoke memory, which the artist calls “stored information.”

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