The epicenter of the art world in East Hampton unveiled its 2019 spring and summer exhibitions. Guild Hall will present the public with a smorgasbord of creativity to feed the soul, carefully curated by museum director Christina Strassfield.
Starting off spring season will be “Phosphene Dreams” by Christine Sciulli, a groundbreaking artist that will exhibit a one-person show, located in the Woodhouse Gallery April 20 through May 27. Sciulli will turn the gallery into an interactive display of light and sculpture. As the public takes in the beauty of the illuminations, they will find themselves completely immersed in Sciulli’s carefully crafted world, each perspective changing throughout the room. The exhibit opens with a private member reception on Saturday, April 20, from 5 to 7 PM.
Why the title ‘Phosphene Dreams’?
Well, I think “Romper Room’s” Magic Mirror from the 1970s is part of the answer to that. I never really could get that image out of my mind from when I was three or four years old. Subsequent to that, I would be pretty highly attuned to weird visual phenomena, like the traditional “seeing stars” to strange tiny fireworks fading in and out on the movie screen of the inside of my eyelids at night.
Phosphenes are visual phenomena resulting from non-visual stimulus. Pressing your eyes, visual effects of dreaming that stick when you have started to emerge from sleep, and some bizarre glitches can image swirls of color and patterns with closed eyes. These are all phosphenes. It can sometimes be known as prisoner’s cinema.
At Guild Hall, I’m working the installations into the corners, dissolving the architecture of the space and sublimating the sense of scale to generate ambiguities akin to phosphenes.
Describe the ways the public can interact with the exhibit.
I’ve asked for two large beanbag chairs to be clustered in the center of the gallery to encourage people to linger. I’m always hopeful visitors will wander in, lie under the work, and drift onto the inner edge of a conscious state of mind.
How has light emerged as a primary focal point for your art?
It’s been an obsession of mine since I can remember. I don’t think I’ve ever worked in earnest with any other medium. I drew obsessively in charcoal, worked in black and white photography, used hand-made still frame projectors, and throw video, but it’s always been in the service of light.
With all the natural light around, where on the East End do you go to become inspired?
I sit outside and look up at our densely matte black nights waiting for dark adaption to overtake my visual field so I can fall in love with the stardust of the Milky Way and light of the rising moon over the sea. It never fails me.
Sciulli holds a degree in Architectural Engineering from Penn State University along with BFA and MFA degrees from Hunter College in Combined Media. Attesting to her prominence as a visual artist, she has been exhibiting for nearly 20 years, accolades include a Lighting Award (UK) and Lumen Citation from the Illuminating Engineering Society. Across the East End her work has been displayed at the Parrish Art Museum, the Southampton Arts Center, and the South Fork Museum of Natural History. All of this lends itself to an interesting, free public program and gallery talk with her, being held on Saturday, May 4, from 2 to 4 PM.
Looking ahead, Guild Hall will devote the entire museum to the multi-media work of Tony Oursler from June 8 through July 21, as Oursler explores the depth of history and character of the East End. Oursler started exhibiting in New York City in the early 1980s and has since utilized optical devices, video, sculpture, and audio to take his work from a 2D world to an interactive one. He brings incorporates references to both science and technology and the mystic and spiritual.
Concluding the summer will be Ugo Rondinone’s “Sunny Days,” on view August 10 through October 14, with a private members reception August 10 from 5 to 7 PM. The Swiss artist exhibit will feature sun-themed sculpture and paintings, which will feature collaboration with local arts students.
See more about what’s happening at Guild Hall by visiting www.guildhall.org.