Multimedia Sculpture Video Installation

Hudson Valley MOCA

ROOTLESS ALGAS  |  Peekskill, NY  2008

The Hudson Valley MOCA, previously the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, located in Peekskill, NY, is a non-profit arts and education organization founded by the Marc and Livia Straus family. The Center is dedicated to the development and presentation of exhibitions and interdisciplinary programs that enrich our understanding of contemporary art, its contexts, and its relationship to social issues.

Media: Abaca cast paper and multimedia
Dimensions: 30ft x 16.5 ft
Music: Hilmar Örn Hilmarson

ARTIST STATEMENT (English / Espanol)

In this work I am exploring my experience on Flatey, an island in Breidafjördur Bay off the coast of Iceland. I had intended to observe and make sketches of the area’s abundant birds, such as Arctic Terns, Red-throated Divers and Black Guillemots, but I learned upon my arrival that two days earlier the birds had migrated to a warmer climate. When my husband, my daughter Shammiel and I arrived, we greatly increased the population of the remote island. Under these circumstances, I found that I was able only to make direct observations with what there was around me. A key part of this trip for all of us was trying to overcome our feelings of isolation and foreignness by exploring the island’s natural habitat.

The rocks on the shores of Flatey were covered with thick and textured accumulations of a type of algae that I had never seen before. The colors and the immensity of these piles were overwhelming. They were aesthetically beautiful, yet I couldn’t explore the shores nor go swimming without stepping in and around the vegetation. This limitation enhanced my internal sensation of being confined; yet, like the algae, I cannot be connected to any one place. Algae have holdfasts that serve as temporary anchors but are not necessary for attaining nutrients. It is common for algae to hold on to each other like refugees, to facilitate ocean travel. My fascination with the algae increased as I also identified with their lack of roots.

For this installation, Rootless Algas, large multi-colored algae have been made by casting translucent abaca sheets into molds that are then hung from ceiling to floor. The work intends to express certain feelings of isolation and attempts to convey characteristics of the actual experience rather than explorations or descriptions. I have removed the plants from their original context and reinvented them to highlight the dynamic between nature and human beings. The configurations of the area require people to experience their surroundings from multiple viewpoints. That spatial virtuality is augmented with a video projection and soundtrack by Icelandic composer Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson. In addition, viewers will have to find and create their own space and in doing so they will recreate on a small scale the limitless scope of the natural world.