Emerson Contemporary introduces spring Media Arts exhibition “Hurricane Lost”

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Photo: Lucia Thorne

Detail shot from “Hurricane Lost”

By Lucia Thorne, Assistant Living Arts Editor

To kick off the spring semester, Emerson Contemporary’s Media Art Gallery is hosting Boston-based interdisciplinary artist Georgie Friedman’s Hurricane Lost sculptural media art exhibition. 

The exhibition, opening on Jan. 27, features eight video installations inspired by extreme global weather conditions imposed by the global climate crisis. Each piece is immersive through both the location of the visuals in the gallery, as well as independent artist Radio Sloan’s original soundscape.

Friedman designs her exhibits based on what the space allows, projecting her digital work onto sculptural pieces of fabric that surround the room. The storm-like imagery of the exhibition, along with the soundscape, emulates the feeling of a hurricane.

Emerson Contemporary’s curator-in-residence and professor of contemporary art Leonie Bradbury said that Hurricane Lost was initially supposed to open last fall, but had to be pushed back due to the pandemic. The exhibit is part of a partnership with the Feminist Art Coalition, a national effort founded in 2017 by Apsara DiQuinzio to showcase projects by female-identifying artists that are “informed by feminisms”, according to their website

Friedman drew from the beauty and power she saw from hurricanes to create this project, which is exactly what caught Bradbury’s eye. 

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“On the one hand, it’s just visually so beautiful and elegant, so I love that you can kind of get lost into the experience of the work. But then at the same time, her work has a message,” Bradbury said. “You can be drawn to it by the climate activist message and then seduced by the visuals or the other way around.” 

The 2016 presidential election and the Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017 inspired DiQuinzio to create the coalition, who intended to showcase exhibits nationally leading up to the 2020 election.

“We decided to move this exhibition forward, and all the programming from the FAC moved forward so it no longer aligns perfectly with the election, but that’s okay,” Bradbury said. “All these issues, all these projects we are bringing to the forefront are still important, regardless of who’s our president.”

An important issue facing the world is climate change, and Friedman conveys the message of its urgency through this selection, drawing from her own experience. 

“I’ve lived many places, but I lived in New Orleans for some time before Katrina hit, it affected so many of my friends and family,” Friedman said. “A bit of it is survivor’s guilt. I was totally fine and so many people’s lives were totally ruined.” 

Friedman said that she learned more about the role of climate change and came to admire these tropical storms for their intensity. 

“I’m really in awe of these things that are so beautiful, so strong but so powerful and emphasize our fragility,” Friedman said.

The exhibition’s virtual walkthrough will take place on Jan. 27. Students can visit the exhibit in-person once the Emerson’s “stay in your room” directive concludes. The policy calls for students to avoid social gatherings and only leave their rooms to pick up meals and mail, work, or attend medical appointments. It is in effect until the end of the day Jan. 29. 

While keeping COVID in mind, Friedman said she hopes students will come view her exhibition, safely. 

“I really hope people come down here in person. I made it for them,” Friedman said. “When it’s down, it’s just a pile of metal and fabric and digital files. It doesn’t exist otherwise. It will never exist like this again, so it’s a once in a lifetime experience.” 

Bradbury also hopes that students come check out the gallery, as it can provide some sense of creative normalcy.

“With our students being on campus, and there being so few opportunities to see artwork or to have an experience that might take you out of your Zoom world or the stress of living in COVID times, I’m hoping this can also be a place of reflection and a place of transformation,” Bradbury said. “Art can offer an escape. I’m hoping they will take that step and come into the door even if they haven’t been here before. This is a welcoming space.”

To attend the virtual walkthrough of the exhibition, you can RSVP on Emerson Contemporary’s website. In addition to the virtual walkthrough, Emerson Contemporary will be holding a virtual Artist Talk with Friedman on Feb. 10, which you can register for online.