Sunroom Project Space 2017
Sunroom Project Space 2017 | May 27–July 9
Pictured above: Video still and installation views from Sindy Butz, Hearth, 2016-17. Courtesy of the artist. Installation photos: Stefan Hagen
Sindy Butz’s interdisciplinary performances and installations explore connections between mind and body. Her slowed-down, mindful movement focuses on the power of an extended moment to facilitate mental time travel and linger in the imagination. As a participant in Wave Hill’s 2016 Winter Workspace, Butz was intrigued by the historic fireplaces in Wave Hill House, Glyndor House and the Ecology Building and started the performance-based video series Hearth. The work deals with the psychological and physical experience of a space, as affected by architecture.
For the Sunroom Project Space, Butz has created an installation consisting of ceramic objects, video art and photography. The focal point is a life-sized fireplace with an open back and a mantel resembling a gate, recalling the appeal of the hearth as a space for aesthetic and cathartic experience. Early Germanic and Celtic tribes throughout Western Europe built the hearth in the center of the dwelling. It was thought to be a portal to otherworldly states, while the chimney was considered the wind eye (window) through which ancestors and nature spirits passed. White porcelain firewood logs are arranged on pedestals in another part of the installation, transforming the space into a kind of monument. Their sculpted surfaces show motifs of plants used by Germanic tribes in shamanic rituals because of their medicinal and transcendental properties. Butz's use of smoke-fragranced ceramic is meant to amplify the connection between scent and deep-seated memory, referencing alchemical properties of fire and burned plant material. An enlarged photograph and videos of the artist performing inside a Wave Hill fireplace beckon the viewer to explore what is beyond the bounds of ordinary reality. In Hearth, cultural anthropology and ethnobotany intersect in narratives that elicit universal, philosophical questions.
Butz earned a BFA in sculpture from the Academy of Art and Design, AKI, Enschede, Netherlands, and an MFA from the Institute of Art in Context, UdK Berlin, Germany. She received the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Jahresstipendium grant, which enabled her to attend New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. Butz has had solo exhibitions at Castle Plüschow, Plüschow, Germany, and Grace Exhibition Space, New York, NY. Her work has been featured in group shows at the Queens Museum; Brooklyn Museum; Alice Austen House, Staten Island, NY; and Museum der Dinge, Berlin, Germany. She has been awarded residencies at Cill Rialaig, South Ireland; Kiyoung Peik Projects, Hwaseong, South Korea; and Wave Hill.
Winter Workspace 2016
Pictured above: Sindy Butz’s Winter Workspace studio, 2016
Sindy Butz’s artistic practice includes the study of butoh dance, Aerial Movement and other contemporary dance techniques. During the Winter Workspace, Butz developed a new project based on a study of the medicinal and botanical research of 11th-century German nun, Saint Hildegard von Bingen. She created videos in which she portrayed Bingen, channeling her life and philosophies. Butz also started her Fireplace Project series in which the artist filmed herself in meditative, endurance-based performances in and around the fireplaces of Wave Hill.
Support for the Visual Arts Program is provided by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.