Call & Response
The Inanimate Vastness of Sidereal Space
Sunroom Project Space | July 25–September 7, 2015
Pictured above: Holly Veselka, The Inanimate Vastness of Sidereal Space, 2015. Installation view, Sunroom Project Space. Cotton fabric, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), acetate. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: David Veselka.
Holly Veselka’s site-specific installations investigate humanity’s cultural heritage in relation to our evolving planet and the surrounding cosmos. She is fascinated by space exploration and the lag in technology’s ability to keep up with our desire to travel beyond Earth. In the 19th century, space travel existed purely as an invention of adventurous thinkers of the time. Rocket enthusiast Claude Ruggieri, for example, imagined launching small animals into the exosphere. Jules Verne’s fiction inspired lunar missions a century later, and in Garrett P. Serviss's science fiction novel, Thomas Edison traveled to Mars.
With these scientists, artists and philosophers in mind, Veselka transforms the Sunroom into a space suggestive of their interplanetary explorations. The title of Veselka’s project is a quote from H. G. Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds (1898), in which the author imagines the possibility of life on Earth escaping its terrestrial bounds. Manipulating and re-contextualizing digitized cultural artifacts—diagrams, illustrations, charts and maps—mined from the billions of terabytes available online, Veselka designs patterns that she prints on fabric. By shaping these patterned textiles into disks and cones, she creates universal forms that suggest both botanical and celestial imagery. These sculptural conversions take fragments of our inherited culture—aged imagery that once existed as a physical document, now reduced to kilobytes floating in virtual space—and refashion them into an immersive environment. Surrounded by illustrations of stellar and lunar fields from the cultural imagination, the viewer is reminded of the unfulfilled promise of more than a century of technological achievements.
Pictured above:The Inanimate Vastness of Sidereal Space, 2015, installation view, cotton fabric, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), acetate, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Ken Goebel.
Pictured above: The Inanimate Vastness of Sidereal Space, 2015, nstallation view, cotton fabric, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), acetate, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: David Veselka.
The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.