Third Coast Digest

‘Strange Vegetation’ blooms at Villa Terrace
by Judith Ann Moriarty

It took 50 men to create the 24 panels of wallpaper using a Napoleonic-era technique, more than 1,500 wooden plates and 192 colors. It had to be done “by hand,” it was thought at the time. Any mechanical assistance would have made this faux scene somehow inauthentic.

So, fantasies of fictional landscapes and bygone periods co-mingle in this space, the Renaissance-era architectural style, the early 19th century interior design traditions and the early 20th century recreations, now themselves open to nostalgic fixation. And this ricochet of centuries is happening, let’s not forget, in a

Times, they are a changin’ at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. Curator Martha Monroe, who arrived in 2009 and has since orchestrated seven exhibitions, has again met and conquered a challenge.

In this case, that challenge is transforming the staid Zuber Gallery on floor two into a room filled with latex forms given life via computers. Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine that anything could actually work with the lush wallpaper jungle in the Zuber?

The installation lives. It breathes and responds to changes in temperature and light. Within the walls of the 1923 mansion at 2220 N. Terrace Avenue, the evolution begins June 8 and ends on July 24.

Okay, now think about a weird-o plant from a cheesy 50’s sci-fi flick, perhaps The Thing. Then consider Strange Vegetation, which indeed recalls those far-out funky flicks from fifty plus years ago. Blame it on two from the wild side: Yevgeniya Kaganovich, Associate Professor of Art and Design at UW-Milwaukee, and her sidekick in brilliant madness, Nathaniel Stern. It sure beats studying the designs on the wallpaper, but the wallpaper is the catalyst and symbiosis is the point. A few years back, Milwaukee Magazine touted Kaganovich as a local who would make a difference in this town. Stern’s CV reads like a fine novel of global proportions. What a match.

East and below floor two, The Renaissance Garden writhes with vegetation, a perfect fit with what’s lurking above…. On Thursday, June 16, from 7-8:30 p.m., Jennifer Johung, Assistant Professor of Art History at UW-Milwaukee, will talk about the installation and architectural symbiosis. Echoing through time are the footsteps of architect David Adler, who brought the building to fruition…. Thanks to Ms. Monroe, the visionary board and talented artists, the Allis and the Villa are in step with this world.

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Imperica

In conversation with… Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern
by Paul Squires

In 2009, an article was published to Wikipedia, called “Wikipedia Art”. To substantiate its publication, several articles were simultaneously published and cited. In the following few hours, the article was fiercely debated on Wikipedia, and eventually deleted; legal wrangling followed, with specific reference to the use of the term “Wikipedia”.

The work, by Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern, was selected for exhibition at the Venice Bienalle that year, and is now on display as part of “Made Real” at the Furtherfield Gallery in London. We caught up with Scott and Nathaniel, to get a first-hand account of the work, and the culture of Wikipedia.

NS: Wikipedia Art was really two projects. On one hand, it was this beautiful found object that anyone can edit. On the other, it was attempting to be an intervention into the hierarchy, the power structure behind Wikipedia, in order to bring it to the surface, and to make people aware of it.

We still love Wikipedia. We still both contribute to it and we still think that it’s a good thing, but we wanted to make a critical work and not in the sense of negativity, but in the sense of critical analysis. We want people to be aware of what’s behind that system.

When we made it, we thought “Oh, this would be a fun little thing”. We knew that there was going to be a big debate on Wikipedia. We figured that there would be the 15-hour deletion, with the scrolls of discussions. But, the fact that it went straight to the top… Jimmy Wales calling us names. Mike Godwin fighting with our lawyers…

SK: … and the threatened lawsuit. That’s when it got interesting. A lot of people felt territorial: almost as if we had got inside their house and peed on the wall. We had trespassed.

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