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Beyond the Sea brings together two practices connected by their exploration of what lies between spirituality and materiality.
Nestled in the remote town of Cascia, within the mountains of southern Umbria, lies the Santuario di Santa Rita de Cascia—the resting place of Saint Rita (1381-1457), who was canonized as “The Saint of Impossible Causes.” In the multi-screen video work Ex-voto (2018), Julie Born Schwartz examines the legacy of Santa Rita through the daily activities of the nuns currently residing at the convent in Cascia, as well as the convent’s association to modern art through the twentieth century French conceptual artist Yves Klein. Klein was deeply fascinated by Santa Rita and left several objects at the convent as offerings to her; the term ‘ex-voto’ is given to the gifts left to a saint or divinity in such a manner.
As with much of his practice, the ultramarine color that he was to patent as International Klein Blue (IKB) featured in several of his ex-votos left for the convent. Drawn from the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli, which for millennia has been extracted and used for decorative and healing purposes in Asia, the color’s Western name—‘ultramarine’—denotes its main point of origin as seen from a Eurocentric viewpoint: Afghanistan, the country literally ‘beyond the sea,’ from where the pigment has been imported into Europe since the Middle Ages.
In 2015, Marie Kølbæk Iversen initiated the project Mirror Therapy tracing the geo-political and art history of ultramarine between East and West from the Industrial Revolution until NATO’s recent war in Afghanistan. While Mirror Therapy engaged itself with questioning the human projection of borders onto the terrain, Kølbæk Iversen’s contribution to Beyond the Sea shifts its gaze to the sea. Simultaneously the border separating ‘us’ from ‘them,’ and a transit zone between what is known and what is not, she explores the concept of the ‘ultra-marine’ through a series of drawings hybridizing ‘monsters’ of the deep with monstrosities of our human existence.
Kilde: SixtyEight Art Institute
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