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Sarah Vang: Visiting Artist Response

Although I attended Matt Ryle’s visiting artist lecture, I feel I can write more about the trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Abinadi Meza’s installation.

Abinadi Meza was born in Chicago in 1976. He graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota. The main media he uses in his artwork is audio and sound.

His installation at MIA was composed of three vitrines of sound and two videos, one of which was played on a small monitor and the other projected against a wall accompanied with sound. All of the art displayed was created at the museum. The sounds were captured with microphones in the galleries, and the video was shot at night while the museum was closed.

As I said in our discussion, the whole thing made me feel like a ghoul or an entity that was not living or dead. I sat and watched the whole video play, drifting in and out with the camera and focusing on the beam of light because it was the only thing that I could make out in the darkness of everything else. Even the sound that played while I watched made me feel detached from the world. This was the reason why I felt like a ghoul; it was almost beyond my control to focus in and see the whole picture of the world (or rather, the museum). I was aware of time passing because of the movement from the Egyptians, to the art of the East, to the ancient Greek and Roman statues, to the art of the 1800s; but unaware of where I was. It was almost a struggle to focus on something both visually and with hearing. I didn’t know where the world started and where it ended because the beam of light moved in a way that could have suggested the space was endless, leaving me to imagine what was beyond what I could see. The whole installation gave me a different feeling. He was able to capture time in such a way to make a person feel like they were not a person at all. It was a different experience, and I enjoyed it.

The presentation itself was well done. The sound vitrines were placed in isolated areas of the installation space. There was nothing in it, yet there was light illuminating it in the darkness of the room, and there was even a pedestal as if displaying a beautiful work of visual art. As you lean in and listen to the sound in the vitrines, you begin to realize that there is art trapped within the clear walls. I was led from the monitor on the wall to each vitrine. The video was the last thing that caught my eye, and it was what brought the whole space together. The video played on the monitor was isolated; there was no sound. The sound in the vitrines was isolated; there was no visual. The projected video was a combination of both: sound of the museum as well as a darker video of it.

“I am interested in the museum as a social organism. The idea of a public museum fascinates me as a corrective to social alienation and a place of historical reflection. The sounds you hear were recorded in the galleries, public spaces, and maintenance areas of the museum. They are paired with video images of empty rooms and isolated artifacts in order to connect the ongoing energy of the living with the static energy of the past.?

I copied this quote from the only lighted wall of the installation space. As I read it, I realized that what a museum does is bring together the past and the present. It brought me back to the thought of being a ghoul because ghouls live forever, stuck in a specific state but living through time.