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Love and/or Terror

Photo courtesy of the UA Museum of art
"Forgery," by Byron D. Clercx, is one of the pieces featured in "Love and or Terror."
By Lindsey Muth
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday September 11, 2003

Since Aug. 3, a unique and timely exhibit dealing with the conflicting subjects of love and terror has resided at the UA Museum of Art. "Love and/or Terror: A Book Arts Exhibition" features pieces by 50 contemporary artists ranging from Tucsonans and UA professors to internationally known artists. Each piece is in the form of a book, and each piece deals, in some way, with either the subject of love, or of terror, or both.

"I noticed, when I looked around myself, a lot of them did not function as a traditional book," Franz Weldgen, adjunct arts professor, said. His graphic book dealing with new parenthood appears in the exhibit.

"They become very intimate pieces," he said. "That artist is saying, ╬I'm giving you something very personal and, if you don't get it, I don't care.' We, in formal conversation, tend not to go around saying what love and terror means to ourselves. As an artist, if you feel uncomfortable about talking formally about issues of love and terror, Ě you can make a book, put it out there in a museum or gallery setting and then let people deal with your voice."

A person finds plenty to deal with while walking around the exhibit. Some of the pieces, like Weldgen's, seem to cast a loving and comical eye on the terrors of everyday life.

"I am a first-time dad, my wife Shannon is a first-time mother and this was all new to us, so we were experiencing all that: love and/or terror," Weldgen said about his book, which features his daughter, Zazie.

Other pieces focus more strongly on the sadness and terror happening within the world. "Journeys," an interactive piece by assistant art professor Carol Flax, brings up issues of apathy and disdain in an ethnocentric world by taking the "reader" on a virtual 19th century rich-man's tour of impoverished countries. "What ╬Journeys' looks at," Flax said, "is the attraction and fear of the ╬other,' of the ╬exotic,' particularly in relation to travel.

"The piece also looks at issues of privilege, in terms of who gets to travel and who the ╬other' is. Since 9/11, that fear and sense of difference has very much reentered the American consciousness, once again pointing out a need for critique and concern," Flax said.

Of course, art being what it is, you may visit the exhibit and go away with completely different impressions of the pieces. But that's one of the great things about art: it doesn't have to force-feed its message to you (usually). You're able to take as long as you need to view each piece, and you may take something away from a piece that no one else in the world would ever identify with that particular piece.

The art books in this exhibit are unique, not just in thematic content, but in their accessibility to the audience. Many of the pieces are hands-on, like Flax's, and can only be fully appreciated by participation from the viewer. The museum provides cloth gloves to keep the artwork from being damaged, which means you don't even have to wash your hands before you go in. But, as the gloves are reused several times a day, it would probably be advisable to wash your hands immediately upon leaving the exhibit.

The Love and/or Terror exhibit will be at the Museum of Art until Sept. 21. The museum, located at North Park Avenue and East Speedway Boulevard, on the south side of the Arts building, is a hop-skip-jump from almost anywhere on campus. Admission is free to the public, which makes visiting the museum an ideal way to occupy the free time between classes. There are always several exhibits on display.

Also, if you are interested in even more upcoming events involving the Love and/or Terror exhibit, there will be two this Friday, and both are free and open to the public. Tomorrow afternoon from 3:30 ¸ 6:30 p.m. at the Center for Creative Photography, there will be a reception with guest speaker Duane Michals. Michals, a poet, philosopher and photographer, will lecture and sign books. Afterward is an exhibition reception from 6:30 ¸ 8 p.m. at the Museum of Art.

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