Black Neutral Objects
November 1 - 26, 2000
Gertrude Moser-Wagner's exhibition, BLACK NEUTRAL OBJECTS, highlights the artistic outcome of her residency at United Media Arts (UMAS) in Durham. Moser-Wagner, a well-known sculptor and conceptual artist from Vienna, has been a guest at UMAS for twelve weeks as their eighth international artist-in-residence.
The exhibition consists of 24 enlarged photographs shot by residents of Durham, according to some simple guidelines set out by the artist. Each photograph involves a black neutral object. Gertrude Moser-Wagner transformed 24 corresponding objects into sculptures, and will display them in an installation together with the photographs. Writing and sketches, documenting the various stages of the project, will complement the visual presentation of this ambitious community-oriented, artistic endeavor. The exhibition reflects the visual dialogue that took place between the artist and the participants and is dedicated to the people of Durham. Gertrude Moser-Wagner arrived in Durham on August 9, along with 48 obscure looking objects, made out of black fabric and shaped like a folded cone. Gertrude refers to them as black neutral objects. "Black neutral objects have the quality of being identical, versatile and transportable and can take on any role you give them. They are visual mediators between people, things and places." After familiarizing herself with our town, she developed an artistic vision for a community-focused project involving the active participation of 24 residents of Durham. Gertrude approached all of the people in Durham whose last name starts with the letter D, U, R, H, A or M and were listed in the phone book. 372 personal letters were hand-delivered by Shannon Kalyniak, who has been assisting Gertrude. By October 2, Gertrude had received exactly 24 responses.
In the next stage of the project an instant camera and one of the black neutral objects with a number stitched into the fabric were handed over to each participant. They were asked to photograph the object in their home or garden and return the exposed film by October 10. The neutral objects became the catalyst for creation and for a cultural exchange of images and ideas.
Engaging the community in an endeavor involving the arts is a challenging and stimulating process evoking the spirits of community-based art that facilitates artistic expression of non-artists. Gertrude utilized the black neutral objects as a means of communication, as a mediator between a public space (the Art Gallery) and private places, reaching across the gap that normally separates public spaces like the Art Gallery and private spaces like peoples' homes.
The exhibition has been made possible with the kind assistance of Ann Markle, Ed McGowan, David Mollison, Sophia Werden Abrams, Ken McNally, Mary E. Diemert, Jean Allen, Alice Atkinson, Adrianne Hopwood, Norman Marshall, Donna Harmon, Henny Dehn, Cathy Morris, Jean Dove, Rose Marie Detzler, Bruce Marshall, Diane Holmlund, Jerry MacMillan, Debbie McLaughlin, Wayne Mighton, Carolyn Hyslop, William Redfern, Larry & Evelyn Hastie, Ada Reay and the financial support of the bka.kunst in Vienna, the Austrian Embassy in Ottawa and the Kulturabteilung des Landes Steiermark, Austria.