by Wes Stitt
Borders, an installation by Barbara Claussen at Augsburg College’s Gage Family Art Gallery, raises issues surrounding the unstable separation of public and private spaces. Dividing the gallery into several sub-spaces, each modeled on a different type of designed environment—information kiosk, office, museum/gallery exhibit and free giveaway basket—Claussen has built a forum to address her subject matter from several directions.
Texts dominate the walls. Some are theoretical or informative, others imperative, still others specific and possibly fictitious examples (hint: look out the window for the red house). Illustrated by models or hung from bulletin boards, they lead the viewer through different areas and ultimately ask for a written or drawn response to be added to the message boards, which are shaped to recall houses, kiosks or monuments, that fill the center of the space.
and visually sparse, Borders is more a learning experience than an aesthetic
one. A quick look will not be enough; the viewer needs to spend some time in
the space and pay attention to each part. Some interactive components of the
installation include obvious instructions; others require clues from the environment
or a text in another part of the space, as well as a willingness to play actively
with concepts of privacy, transgression and purpose. Playing along, I ended
up outside the gallery (I think) in a real office that is also a kitchen. The
outside boundaries of Borders are also permeable and in question.
In the Christensen Center Gallery, Terry Gydesen’s exhibit, Justice
for All? presents photographs from two decades of political activism on
both sides of the debate over gay and lesbian civil rights. An accomplished
documentarian, Gydesen has captured the passion and exuberance of activists,
lovers and friends, as well as that of their political adversaries, and contrasts
it with the seeming indifference of bystanders and, more disturbingly, policy-makers.
She offers pregnant, human moments from a struggle that is often dangerously
Though the photographs are dated and often tied to specific historical events,
the sequencing is not strictly linear; an emotional narrative coincides with,
and at times, overshadows the political one. The individual moments presented
are often close and intimate, but the inescapable presence of crowds, cameras,
microphones and stage lighting reminds the viewer of how very public the personal
has become in this struggle.
Particularly resonant images include an anti-gay protester wrapped in protective
latex and plastic against a sympathetic crowd, an unflattering portrait of Paul
Wellstone that captures the intensity of the man at his work better than many
prettier pictures have, and a difficult-to-read contrast study between a playful
homoerotic advertising image on reflective glass and a (perhaps deceptively?)
average-looking pedestrian. ||
Borders and Justice for All? are on view through Feb. 18 at
Augsburg College, 22nd Ave. at 7th St., Mpls., 612-330-1524. Borders is in the
Gage Family Art Gallery in second floor Lindell Library. Gage hours are Mon.–Fri.
10 a.m.–7 p.m.; Sat.–Sun. 1–5 p.m. Justice for All? is in
the Christensen Center Gallery. Christensen hours are Mon.–Sun. 8 a.m.–5
p.m. An opening reception will be held Fri. Jan. 20 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.