Saturday, April 17, 2010

Look at Kim Cook's Work at Upcoming SFAI Vernissage

EXHIBITION TITLE: San Francisco Art Institute Vernissage
LOCATION: Herbst Theater 401 Van Ness San Francisco, CA 94102
Friday May 14, 2010 6pm - 8pm

Kim Cook, a second year New Genre's focus at the San Francisco Art Institute is currently working on a project entitled, Resource Exchange, a commentary on restricted access to our global water supply. Water, a natural resource that should be within reach to the global community, unfortunately is not. With more than 95% of the world's water supply owned by powerhouse corporations, business becomes the middle-man, thereby hindering our free access to water and restricting not only who the reserve reaches, but how we obtain it. In preparation for Vernissage, SFAI's final showcase of graduating MFA practices, Kim asked myself and four other volunteers to participate in modeling her take on the quite literal handicapping society faces in their struggle for water access.

Photo courtesy of Kim Cook

Kim designed a garment that serves as both a hybrid life vest and straight jacket. A harness on the back holds in place a one gallon container of water making it inaccessible for the person carrying it to drink from it themselves. Hand made and crafted with impeccable artistry, the garb had all the characteristics of both a life preserver (the polished detail of hand sewn plush materials) and a straight jacket (arm restraints and belted clasps). Both of these things working against one another dissolved the garment's individual functionality and actually hindering out mobility and ability to interact with the other participants. The garment's dichotomy between a life preserver and a restraint was a conceptually created a metaphor for the global water crisis. On one hand, water should be within reach for consumption at any point to anyone, yet corporate control of the circulation of fresh drinking water limits millions on a daily basis.

As models, we acted out this restriction first hand. Our group was challenged by Kim to situate our bodies in various ways that allowed everyone could drink from the jugs of water resting on each of our backs. No outside props could be used, and each arrangement was no a success unless everyone could drink, thus stressing the interdependence of global water access. Kim's design to implement a straight jacket impeded any movement of the arms, obstructing us as models from using our hands for anything.

The reliance we all felt on one another to gain access to the water on the backs of each other was a punctilious, meticulous commentary on the global water crisis. Having to contort our bodies in various positions and focus our energy on the whole group drinking rather than our individual parts proved to be a severe challenge with only five people, let alone that proposed on the global scale.

Photo courtesy of Kim Cook

Kim documented our efforts and plans to create sketches of some of the images, voiding each model of recognizable facial features, thereby universalizing us as representations of all those effected by the fresh water crisis. Having seen a basic sample of the drawn work, the sketches are extremely poetic in their forms and aesthetically subdued despite the intense nature of the commentary at hand.


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