Left: Stephanie Benassi, Cipher 3/7, 2013, Digital C-Print
Right: Gu Zhongsheng, Dust 4/15, 2015, Digital C-Print
Stephanie Benassi/Gu Zhongsheng: A Silent Applause, for No One to Hear
The title A Silent Applause, for No One to Hear comes from poet Kelsey M. Musselman’s poem Silent Sight. She describes nature as a wonderful but silent musical. We all live close to nature, and get memory from it. In many of these situations, we don’t realize how nature affects our emotions and grow into our life experience. Using elements from nature such as wood, earth, air, dust, water, and sunlight—in the context of macrocosm and microcosm—this exhibition explores the relationship between memory, narrative, and romanticism.
Stephanie Benassi’s work presents a social and ecological memory, which is firmly based on her research, travel, and material experimentation. In Cipher, she presents each microsystem built in of itself. Besides the big objects you can see directly and easily, many minute creatures are living upon them, with air and dust that you cannot see. Also, her work discusses colonization: From that colonization, the memory of the landscape of the people who lived here previously is still imbedded in that landscape. Global is an archive of photographs that each shows a piece of “exotic” wood from all over the world. They become meaningful and unique as a result of people's selection, attachment, and memory.
Gu Zhongsheng’s work is more of personal memories. Hot Pink comes from his memory of someone he loved covering his eyes with their hands while blocking the direct sunlight. When those hands are taken away, these images are what he immediately sees, and what he has only left. Through the sensation of those hands on your face lingering, the inexpressible happiness companies with small sorrows. Before Sunrise/After Sunset captures gaps of light and color, these precious in-betweens only exist at that moment from each day when the time is standing on a balanced point but only lasting transiently. As a transplant in New York City with family and friends all in his hometown, he captures the twelve-hour time difference between the two cities, enabling us to see the sky transition in the two cities simultaneously. Dust and Trace respectively present a large world of tiny matters, which are too small to be seen. On the molecular level, these molecules form a large object, and fragmented daily experiences become memories. While it's a different process from Benassi's, both capture the essence of memory in focus at different stages in our interaction with the things we get attached to.
Setphanie Benassi received her MFA in Photography and Film at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010. Since 2011, she has worked as a professor of Photography and New Media at George Mason University. Her art practice concentrates on the use of photographic images and processes to conceptually engage the contradictions, limitations, and fragmented simplifications that are inherent in photography.
Gu Zhongsheng was born in a small town at the border of China and North Korea. Despite the residents there commonly speak three or more languages, he tries to find a way to talk, outside the realm of words, through movement, shapes and images. His work focuses on exploring and expanding the possibilities of photography as a media of communication and tries to break the boundary of time and space. Thus, his visual language tends to more concise and poetic.