Exhibit on the Past Poses Questions about the Present

Andrea Ray’s Désire is on exhibit in the Center for the Arts’ Zilkha Gallery. The dinner table is embedded with speakers, playing a dinner conversation.
Posted 05/15/08
May 2 marks the 40th anniversary of a student strike in France that led to a shift to the eventual the end of the De Gaullle government in France.

This historic event is the topic of a new exhibition in Wesleyan’s Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Titled Désire by Andrea Ray, the three-part installation revisits May 1968 to pose a question about the present: Could the Paris model of social and political agency be employed in The United States at a time when deepening crisis is coupled with fear and apathy?

“At Wesleyan, we are acknowledging this important anniversary in the form of a fascinating installation by a young artist who raised interesting questions about then and now,” says Nina Felshin, curator of exhibitions and adjunct lecturer in art history.

Désire  reflects on this against a backdrop of French writer and activist Marguerite Duras’ plays and the dinners she often hosted.

The three components of Désire  include “Occupied,” a series of soft-focus photographs of now empty intersections of Paris streets once blocked by students; “The Gift,” a sculptural installation consisting of a dinner table, embedded with speakers, chairs and a “conceptual soup”; and “Rehearse,” a theatrical space with an audio component of an abortive rehearsal of a play based on Duras’ Hiroshima Mon Amour.

“Together the three pieces reflect a repetitive search for things seemingly unattainable–a complete understanding of war, an experience of productive social change through protest, and an association with an effective community,” Felshin says.

Felshin and Ashley Casale ’10, a student who completed a 3,000-mile March for Peace across America in 2007, will speak at a WESeminar on Andrea Ray at 3:30 p.m. May 24 in the Zilkha Gallery.

A Hartford Courant article on Désire  is online at http://www.courant.com/entertainment/museums/galleries/hc-dinnerexhibit0510.artmay10,0,964848.story.