An exhibit that inspires reflection

Peer through a telescope at the right time and Mercury can be seen moving backward in its orbit. While such movement is simply an optical illusion, this event, known as Mercury Retrograde, holds important significance in popular astrology. It is believed that at the time of this illusion, which occurs three or four times a year, aspects of society are devolving and it is necessary to reflect on not only our lives, but also radical global changes.

This past Thursday, February 6, curators Zelijka Himbele and William Heath spoke about the current exhibition on display in the Williams Center Gallery, entitled “Mercury Retrograde: Animated Realities.” Himbele and Heath discussed how the concept came to be, and described their work as curators of the exhibition.

As curators, they are in charge of working directly with the artists, arranging the exhibition space, and writing the exhibition essay, among other responsibilities. While Himbele has been the curator for countless exhibits differing in audiences, size, and purpose.

“The most memorable [exhibits] served as a fertile ground for discussion,” Himbele said. “I think that the ones that get the most reaction and generate most conversation are, in my opinion, most memorable and successful ones”

The current exhibit on the Mercury Retrograde features animations taken from different aspects of the media. The art of animation allows the images to be abstracted in a way that clearly depicts issues in today’s society. International artists Brian Alfred, Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, Aline Bouvy & John Gillis, Cliff Evans, Jan Nalevka, and Noah Spidermen and Scott Gelber contributed to the animations. The international selection was intentional to show how current issues are expanding globally.

“The videos talk about culture of spectacle, ecology, excesses of consumption, economy and power relations in an era of globalization and interconnectedness,” Himbele said. “It gives us a chance to grow as humans, to raise critical awareness, and possibly make a movement towards radical change.”

One of the featured animations entitled Venusia by Aline Bouvy and John Gillis explores the idea of beauty, particularly in fashion magazines. Images of female profiles, manicured hands, and jeweled broaches fill the screen in order to allow the viewer to examine beauty in today’s society.

While the most recent Mercury Retrograde occurred yesterday during Himbele and Heath’s talk, another is expected on June 7, 2014.