A Lasting Connection 01.13.14
When I responded to the SPACES invitation to collaborate with visiting Berlin artists Yuka Oyama and Axel Ruoff on their installations, all I knew was that I definitely fulfilled the requirement of having a "special relationship with a particular object." Moon shelves (crescent-shaped knickknack shelves) are not known in Berlin, but many Clevelanders remember them from childhood. First I just loved them as handmade variations of a favorite image, the moon; and then, discovering they were called "Stairway to Heaven," they acquired spiritual meaning. Axel and Yuka were intrigued with these moon shelves, and went on to discover other collections as well that inspired them. Their idea, they told me, was that they would share their ideas and imagination with the community and "then see what will happen"...
After interviewing me at length about my relationship to the moon shelves, Yuka created a mirrored moon mask in which I was photographed by Becky Yee in my home surrounded by my collection. Yuka's installation includes photos by Yee of several collectors in masks, as well as information from Yuka's interviews and a display of the quite large original masks.
Axel made paintings and videos, inspired by discussions he and I had about the symbolism of the stairs and moon, and also inspired by the story of a man disfigured in a historic Cleveland fire, who became for Axel a mythic "man without a face" or without a "self". His video, "How do I get to Moonshelf City?," appears at first to be a real interview, but instead reveals itself to be a fantasy. The faceless man, offscreen, consults me on how to use a moonshelf--a magic object--to find a face.
Mystery, fantasy, psychological study, even humor (are those really football players running up the moonshelf stairs?)--I was so glad I said "yes" to this imaginative adventure. The exhibit closes this Friday, January 17.