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Art Exhibit Provides a Literal Path for Pondering Selfhood, Mortality

Diane Christiansen and Shoshanna Utchenik's Notes to Nonself
Diane Christiansen and Shoshanna Utchenik's Notes to Nonself View print-quality image

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September 16, 2010

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Gallery visitors will explore selfhood, mortality and other themes through a path of structures, paintings, drawings, and other media during an exhibit opening Sept. 24, 2010, at the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI.

The exhibit, Notes to Nonself, runs Sept. 24 – Nov. 13, 2010, at the Eleanor Prest Reese and Robert B. Berkshire Galleries, Eskenazi Hall, 735 W. New York St. An opening day reception, including a 6:30 p.m. walk-through with the artists Diane Christiansen and Shoshanna Utchenik, will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. A pre-exhibit artist talk will take place at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 22, 2010, at the gallery.

Notes to Nonself is the product of a long-distance collaboration between artist,
musician and practicing psychotherapist Diane Christensen and artist, curator
and theatrical performer Shoshanna Utchenik. Based in Chicago and Slovenia,
respectively, the two used letters, e-mail and Skype to further their creation.

The exhibition functions as a literal and metaphorical path through structures,
paintings, drawings, sculptures and video that explore selfhood, mortality and the
difficulty of personal connections, among other themes.

A red velvet curtain shrouds the entrance. Once inside, visitors navigate the Ego
Forest, a wonderland of clouds and trees covered in the missives that
formed the basis of the artists’ transatlantic relationship; and the Relationship
Bardo, a giant octopus representing Tibetan Buddhism’s concept of the soul’s transition between death and rebirth; before ending their journey at the Meditation Refuge.

The iconology for the exhibition, filled with trees, skulls, cartoon figures and animals,
is heavily rooted in Christensen’s recent drawing and painting work. The set-like
quality and theatrical staging of the installation reflect Utchenik’s background in
sculpture and performance. Despite being an amalgam of each artist’s practices, the
end result has a pleasing stylistic cohesion.