Conversations | Barbara Campisi’s “A Sound of Light, appearing around the bend” Brings Light and Dance to FiveMyles Gallery
“I hope this participatory exhibition encourages a sense of play, and invites people to see art as something to explore and interact with, and that they take this experience into the world.”
Barbara Campisi’s upcoming installation, A Sound Of Light, appearing around the bend, captures elements of light, movement, and space. Viewers will not only be able to walk through the encompassing maze-like installation featuring dancers of various backgrounds covered in LED-lights, but will also have the chance to engross themselves by participating in this light-based artwork.
The Fiscally Sponsored Project will be on view at FiveMyles Gallery from February 9 through March 16, with several special events in store. The February 9 opening will feature a dance performance by Belinda Becker with music by Mecca Bodega. Catch a dance performance by Laura Ward and Cassie Roberts of the Octavia Cup Dance Theatre with music by Big Lazy on February 24, followed by a conversation with Barbara Campisi and Linnaea Tillet on March 10 and a dance performance by Pat Hall and drummers on March 16.
NYFA had the opportunity to speak with Campisi about A Sound Of Light, appearing around the bend in advance of its opening. Read the interview below:
NYFA: Why did you choose FiveMyles Gallery in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn as your installation site? What are you hoping the community learns while exploring and participating in your full-room exhibition?
Barbara Campisi: First was the location. Hanging around the gallery, I appreciated how engaged the multicultural neighborhood is. Neighbors stop by all the time, and I love the gallery’s non-precious, inclusive vibe. Second was the physical space: large and dark grey. And when I met FiveMyles director and artist Hanne Tierney, and saw her wonderful kinetic, theatrical sculptures, I knew we would share a point of view. She’s been great to work with. After exploring the piece, I hope the community will come away with a sense of wonder about the world, how we perceive things, and how our bodies physically relate to physical space.
NYFA: Your exhibition will include a participatory component where the viewers will be provided an LED light. How do you think this will change the experience of participants?
BC: The participatory component will temporarily de-mystify the piece, and offer a chance for viewers to dictate their own experience. When you enter the maze you’re surrounded by lights and disoriented; it’s hard to tell where the lines of light are coming from and how the space is configured. By shining your own light, you can begin to figure out what is happening, and add to the effect. As you walk around, the lines of light you create disappear and reappear, intersecting with other people’s moving lines. I hope this participatory exhibition encourages a sense of play, and invites people to see art as something to explore and interact with, and that they take this experience into the world.
NYFA: A Sound of Light, appearing around the bend includes performances from several dancers from various cultural backgrounds. What was your motivation for adding a performance component to your exhibition? What was the selection process like?
BC: Sculpture and dance have always been interconnected for me. I started making installations that fully inhabit space after I began studying Afro-Caribbean dance and experienced space in a visceral way. I have long wanted to combine the two, and in the process of making this piece, I realized this would be the time. The selection process was organic because I know so many great dancers who I have followed or danced with over the years. It was important for me to choose a cross-section of different traditions to represent, but it was difficult to narrow it to just a few.
NYFA: Light and movement are core components of your installation. What life experiences led you to create an exhibition combining both elements?
BC: My experience with dance and movement led to working with form in space. Dance is also about music and the process of composing in light feels very musical to me, almost a synesthetic experience. Like everyone, I dance around in the studio, and with this piece, the cacophonous movement of the lights on the panels juxtaposed against the quietude of the piece with static lights was interesting.
NYFA: Why did you choose NYFA Fiscal Sponsorship?
BC: I have been reading the NYFA newsletter since it was in paper form. When I embarked on this piece, I decided to get a fiscal sponsor so that I could raise funds in a tax-deductible way. I saw the deadline in the newsletter, and read about all of the benefits offered to sponsored artists, and NYFA seemed the obvious choice. I later took advantage of other offerings, such as grant reviewing, which has been so helpful.
-Interview Conducted by Eleysha Sajous, Fiscal Sponsorship Intern
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Image Credits: Courtesy of Barbara Campisi