Ahram Jeong Makes Art from the Heart(beat)

11/09/2011 7:00 AM |

In “No More Picture with a Dead Body,” participants lie down on circular pedestals in the middle of the gallery. Their heartbeats activate cameras positioned around the room—with every pulse, the cameras capture onlookers and immediately project their photos onto the wall. There is no escape—if the viewer doesn’t offer herself as a participant outright, she is still implicated. What makes “No More Picture” so tense is that it is impossible to interact with it as just a viewer. Every photo is a collaboration—audience is subject, always.

“Staying Alive,” the only other piece in the exhibition, follows in this vein. On one of three screens, the viewer watches Ahram Jeong dig her own grave. On another, the beats of her heart transform into musical notation. On a third screen, a drummer “plays” the beat of Jeong’s heart on a drum set at the bottom of the same grave. The obvious question is this—does Jeong’s work trivialize the body? She equates one of its most vital tasks to flipping a switch or beating a drum. Still, she tasks the heart with determining the outcome of her work, a duty usually left to the eye or mind or both. Either way, one does not leave the show with more or less respect for the heart’s lifelong occupation—just an acute awareness that it’s still there.

(Images courtesy the artist and Momenta Art)