Gem Center Exhibition Asks: What Is a Body? 

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Teal Gardner

A new joint exhibition with works by Robert Ladislas Derr and Teal Gardner opening Monday, Sept. 9, at the Gem Center for the Arts offers two distinct ways of looking at the human body.

Columbus, Ohio-based Derr will unveil Day In, Day Out, a three-channel video installation meditating on the roles of routine and habit in making people feel entertained and fulfilled. Each video is pegged to a time of day—morning, afternoon and dusk—and set somewhere idyllic where a body actually, figuratively and theoretically goes through the motions.

"I'd say that one of the stories all three tell addresses how conventionally structured the everyday is. In the morning, we awaken and become vertical. It's presented as a vertical video rather than a horizontal video," Derr said, adding that his photography background informed how he staged and captured every shot.

Where Derr's work asks existential and psychological questions about the human body, Gardner's examines the human body as a microcosm of macro environments in a series of works inspired by angst over climate change.

"This work is in response to what I view as a climate-induced looking that we're doing as a society right now," she said. This is me taking a look at us as an interdependent species."

Her works, collectively called Bodies of the Mesh, consists of human body part-shaped tablets painted over with representations of microorganisms (between 500 and 1,000 species of them inhabit the human gut alone). The idea is to help viewers acknowledge themselves as more than tottering vehicles for consciousness, and that they are as much planets for those microorganisms as Earth is for humankind.

"This work was motivated by a sense of vulnerability: We are vulnerable because we're putting ourselves in danger," Gardner said. "I want to amend our sense of isolation."

The opening reception begins at 6 p.m., and is free to attend.

—Harrison Berry

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