Check out 2005 World all-around champion and 2008 Olympic team silver-medalist Chellsie Memmel’s performance during the grand opening of Gloria, presented by the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the collaborative team Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, at the U.S. Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibit official opens June 4 and runs through Nov. 27, 2011. The clip also shows 1996 Olympic decathlon gold-medalist Dan O’Brien, who also is participating in the grand opening.
In addition to Memmel, 2007 U.S. all-around champion David Durante, 2000 Olympian Steve McCain and former U.S. rhythmic gymnastics all-around champion Olga Karmansky will perform on the works Body in Flight (Delta) and Body in Flight (American) as part of the exhibition’s unveiling. O’Brien was one of the first runners to perform on the work titled Track and Field. The other three pieces are Algorithm, Armed Freedom Lying on a Sunbed, and Half MastFull Mast. The works employ a variety of artistic practices including sculpture, performance, video, and sound elements. The six works re-present familiar symbols, forms, and actions to destabilize existing narratives around national identity, global commerce, international competition, democracy, and militarism.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art partnered with USA Gymnastics and USA Track & Field on Body in Flight (Delta), Body in Flight (American), and Track and Field, which will incorporate performances by athletes at intervals throughout the duration of the exhibition. Body in Flight (Delta) and Body in Flight (American) are full-scale reproductions of the latest designs for business class seats found on U.S. commercial airlines. The stained wooden sculptures substitute for the balance beam and pommel horse, creating an unusual platform for a new language of movement that “contaminates” strict gymnastic routines. Track and Field will feature a full-scale, overturned military tank that has been repurposed by superimposing a functioning treadmill above its right track, on which USA Track & Field athletes will run.
The title Gloria translates from Italian and Spanish to Glory. Gloria references military, religious, spiritual, Olympic, economic, and cultural grandeur, and points to the pomp and splendor of the national pavilions. The title also references the numerous pop songs that the female name has inspired.
Algorithm, a towering, interactive sculpture, combines a fully functioning Diebold automated teller machine (ATM) and a custom-made pipe organ. Each financial transaction that visitors conduct, from checking balances to withdrawing cash, generates a unique score. The musical arrangement selected via the ATM keyboard is made audible at varying degrees of volume by driving pressurized air through the organ pipes. The final collection of sounds ranging from atonal material to more classically structured melodies, harmonies, and phrases will generate an algorithmic musical soundtrack for the interior of the pavilion.
Armed Freedom Lying on a Sunbed is an altered bronze replica of the Statue of Freedom, also known as Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace (and sometimes referred to as Armed Freedom), which has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building since 1863. Armed Freedom rests inside a Solaris sun bed with bright, almost blinding light creating a hallucinatory halo emanating from the pavilion’s rotunda.
Half MastFull Mast (2010) is a twenty-one minute video created on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. The piece consists of two projected videos, one above the other. Each depicts a different landscape, but both share a common cinematic framing of a flagpole in the center of the image. The result of the two images together creates the appearance of one single flagpole connected between the two screens, despite the image’s otherwise obvious disjunctive backgrounds. One gymnast at a time enters one of the two screens and takes the position of a human flag. Depending on which screen the gymnasts appear, top or bottom, the flag seems to be flying at full mast or half mast, in sites that symbolically mark places of victory or setback in the island’s struggle for peace, decontamination, ecological justice, and sustainable development.
In conjunction with La Biennale di Venezia, the IMA will use its resources in new media and community outreach to provide an unprecedented variety of educational and public programming to complement Allora & Calzadilla’s exhibition in the U.S. Pavilion. Engaging audiences in Venice, Puerto Rico, Indianapolis, and beyond, programs will include social media integration, video documentation, public talks, and related publications. The Indianapolis Museum of Art has partnered with Museo de Arte de Ponce (Ponce, Puerto Rico) and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Venice, Italy) to provide an educational program for underserved teens from all three locations. The students will meet in Venice during the summer and will document their experiences throughout the program on Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and the blog “Our Voices/La Nostra Voces/Nuestra Voz” (www.imamuseum.org/ourvoices).
The leading sponsors of the United States Pavilion in 2011 are the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Hugo Boss. The Pavilion is also made possible through the generous support of the following: Diana and MoisA A(C)s Berezdivin, Ignacio J. LA A3pez and Laura Guerra, Donald R. Mullen, Jr., Christina and Carlos TrA A!paga, CafA A(C) Yaucono, Christie Digital Systems USA, Inc., and Diebold.
To learn more about Gloria and the U.S. Pavilion, please visit: http://www.imamuseum.org/venice.