Alexandra Opie is intrigued by opposites. Her art juxtaposes the richness of still life in compositions echoing the dark sumptuousness of European vanitas paintings heavy laden with fruit, flora and death symbols with the crackling immediacy of live, interactive video. In her upcoming installation, opening Oct. 9 at the Woolworth Building, Opie blurs the line between still life and real life by actually drawing viewers into her art work via live-feed cameras mounted inside the exhibition window. Spectators captured on camera are projected back onto a screen behind the glass in real-time, creating a layer of floating imagery over the composed objects. Sound complicated? We think it sounds like a sharp, lush homage to the Old Masters in the digital age.
Two compositions anchor Still Life in Motion: the Street and both revisit the medieval idea of vanitas, or the fleeting vanity of life. The first mimics a formal, traditional style and consists of items signifying abundance and high status (fruit, silver and glassware), alongside those of impermanence (a skull and flowers) – all are cheap dime-store props. The second still life is a 21st-century interpretation of vanitas and crowded with masks, blank-faced dolls, and a plastic skull nestled amidst other synthetic symbols. On top of these two striking compositions the live video of onlookers is projected, so that living faces mingle with the artificial ones, inviting a humor-tinged contemplation about mortality and the passage of time.
In February 2011, Opie’s video work will be presented at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR. In March, the Salem, OR-based artist will have a photographic exhibition at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, at Willamette University. Still Life in Motion: the Street, 11th & Commerce, Oct. 9, 2010 – Jan. 5, 2011. www.alexandraopie.com