Exhibitions at DVAC and Sinclair
By Jud Yalkut
An annual event in the City of Dayton is the collaborative “REACH Across Dayton” studies conference and exhibitions co-sponsored by the Dayton Visual Arts Center, Sinclair Community College and the EbonNia Gallery. REACH “seeks to promote learning in the arts and humanities by creating an atmosphere that builds respect, knowledge, appreciation and understanding for this area’s diverse cultural populations.”
At DVAC through Feb. 25 are two conjoined exhibitions: “Reconciliation I” by photographer Chris Bucher and “Reconciliation II” by performance artist Takeshi Moro. Moro was born in Tokyo and attended Brown University in Rhode Island, receiving his B.A. in 2001, and after a short career in the field of finance, he pursued his interest in photography and received an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008.
Moro states that “my work explored the personal and public reconciliation process and how these experiences may be manifested within the experience of art.” His basic modus operandi is based on the simple gesture of bowing, an obeisance common to many cultural strains and which, in Moro’s case, is linked to the act of apology. This act is, in Moro’s words when “raised to an iconic level, is meant to frame ideas of humility and forgiveness for whoever takes the opportunity to perform this act.”
The spectator in the DVAC gallery is afforded the opportunity to share in this act of apology or forgiveness through the device of a provided “Pedestal for Apology” (2010) which provides definite markings for the placement of knees, hands and the bowed head. This places the simple gesture of apology in a “very public situation, which may be seen as equally ridiculous or irreverent.”
The full act of bowing can be also seen as an obeisance to a higher deity or religious belief, in many divergent ways from Zen Buddhism and Yogic asanas to full prostration in Judeo-Christian and Muslim acts of devotion. In any case, succumbing to Moro’s invitation for participation, the viewer becomes more than simply that as he views the world upon arising.
Moro broaches human relationships his “Couples” videotape in which the act of alternate bowing with a taller stout man and a shorter woman takes on ritualistic tendencies, and his “Aldrin” videotape allows the artist to dig his own hole in the sand from the recumbent attitude until disappearing from view within the self-created cavity.
He bows on the bed of his messy room in the color inkjet print “Krysta, my mother cleaned my room until I was 18,” and other images show the artist or his representatives bowing before a city skyline, a public park, an automobile, or a public market by the Borough Hall subway station in New York. “By introducing levity into a very somber situation, I hope to diffuse and humanize the burden of this engagement,” Moro said.
Chris Bucher is a large-format photographer who uses certain extreme methods to finish off his pieces, in which he employs a blow torch as part of the UV coating process of his images. He created the DVAC “reconciliation” images at the Jireh Sports Ministry boxing gym between February and July of 2008, tracking “a group of inner city youths through their training until the 2008 Ringside World Championships held in Kansas City, MO.”
Bucher became, as he says, virtually a fixture of the gym, and he finally concentrated on just a few of the adolescents as they learned and progressed in the difficult art of fisticuffs. Bucher found a sense of duality in his images “from the difference between strength and power, to examining both toughness and affection and … a difficult place where these boxers are trapped between the need to show their toughness and their manhood, all the while still being boys.” The scale of the images emphasizes the struggles and conflicts with which these boy-men contend with each other and themselves.
Within the images magnified into heroic proportions, Bucher’s photos fill the room with a monumental sense. In December he received a Gold Medal for them going on exhibit at the National Art Museum of Sport, and the DVAC show is the first solo exhibition of this body of work. There is a bold crossed-arm portrait of “Dajan,” two action boxing scenes called “Brothers,” a close-up with fierce eyes of “Tevin’s Gloves,” and the poignant solitude of one boy in the ring in “Finding Strength.”
Several other large format pieces by Chris Bucher are on view at the Works On Paper Gallery in Building 13 of Sinclair Community College through Feb. 26, with receptions on Feb. 24 from 5 to 7 p.m. at DVAC, and 7-9 p.m. at Sinclair. This is all in conjunction with the REACH Conference being held at Sinclair from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25. Speaking at the conference will be the artists Takeshi Moro and Chris Bucher. The full-day conference cost, including lunch and parking, is $45.00 with a registration deadline of Feb. 19. Contact Tess Little at Sinclair at (937) 512-5318 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The Dayton Visual Arts Center is located at 118 North Jefferson St. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. For more information call (937) 224-3822 or visit www.daytonvisualarts.org.
Reach DCP freelance writer Jud Yalkut at JudYalkut@daytoncitypaper.com