Pitzer Art Gallery Presents: Euan Macdonald's "Kimball 1901-"

By Ashli Duncan '11Opinions and Editorials Editor

On Jan. 27 Pitzer College’s Nichols Gallery hosted an opening of Euan Macdonald’s work “KIMBALL 1901-.” The piece was tailor made for the Pitzer Art Gallery. It is comprised of a stop-motion video and an edition of silk-screen printed anagrams. Coffee, water, wine and other refreshments were available for the students, faculty and Claremont community that visited the gallery. Under the clamoring of voices from excited patrons, the sound of a piano and disjointed sounds of birds and dogs barking filled the gallery. The stop motion film played on a constant loop downstairs. Antique books—including a colorful variety of novels and encyclopedias— are placed on top of the wooden piano in sets of ones, twos and threes. Soon patrons can only see part of the piano and then finally the last book fills the space leaving nothing but stacks of books, all holding stories that have been read over time. The stop-motion video begins again, but this time by taking the books away—as if to reread them. The piano is revealed slowly.

Upstairs, five silkscreen anagrams are lit with subtle light.  The silkscreens are the size of old movie posters, with rich red lettering advertising movies that will never be seen. The posters are anagrams using all the letters of the title of Charles Bukowski’s book of poems, “Play The Piano Drunk Like A Percussion Instrument Until The Fingers Begin To Bleed A Bit.” The simple images will make your mind race while trying to comprehend the meaning in the texts.  Macdonald rearranged the letters into poems that call on images of city lights, love and even death. Although the two works seem vastly different, they are connected by the piano. The scrambled words on the silk screen create their own story separate from the original text it was derived from. The books on the piano begin to make their own story too. As an audience member, I tried to understand the relation the books had to the piano. What kind of person reads “The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough, along with the hundreds of other books that consume the piano?

Overall, the exhibit left me thinking about the passage of time and how it changes due to perception. The video visually depicts the passage of time as it slips away, narrowing the present moment.  The time spent trying to crack the anagrams is completely different from the video.  The passage of time is slower with a feeling of no end in sight. The silkscreens are a nice balance to the constant motion of the video. The exhibit is a great way to spend a study break.

Visit the Nichols Gallery in the Broad Center at Pitzer College from noon to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday.