Tag Archives: Mike Bourscheid


Unwilling: Exercises in Melancholy


HAVERFORD, Pa.- What if we saw sadness not as a giving up or giving in, but a getting out? What if, instead of being seen as a passive pain, feeling deep sorrow was understood to be an act of resistance? What if, given the current political and cultural moment in which so many feel ignored, maligned, or repudiated by the systems and people in power, mourning was not just an understandable reception, but a useful action against those systems? A new exhibit in Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, opening March 23, showcases the work of five artists from across different media to grapple with such questions of power, agency, and melancholy.

Unwilling: Exercises in Melancholy, curated by Vanessa Kwan and Kimberly Phillips, proposes a re-consideration of melancholia as defined through our contemporary condition. Resisting its historical definition as an affliction that creates disorder or inactivity, this exhibition reimagines passive sadness as a powerful refusal, a conscious (or unconscious) “standing aside,” a willful production of generative failures and resistant potencies. Each of the five contributing artists begins with the idea that outside the boundaries of “contentment” resides a potent flourishing. Unwilling is a resistance and a proposition: it responds to the profound cultural reckoning we are witnessing in this moment in time, as the boundaries and exclusions of state-defined citizenship become increasingly fraught.

The exhibition crosses disciplinary boundaries. Dance artist Justine A. Chambers explores choreographies of resistance, growing out of a studious and embodied interpretation of all the minor gestures on the way to hands raised in surrender. Sculpture- and performance-based artist Mike Bourscheid mines absurdities in relation to our cultural preoccupations with masculinist productivity, while social practice artist Ginger Brooks Takahashi works to create new networks of value in the production of food, drink, and community. (Her piece in the exhibit is a collaboratively created-and consumed-beer.) The “weeping” willow is at the center of media artist Noa Giniger‘s multi-faceted take on reversals of sadness and the refusal to succeed, and poet and critic Billy-Ray Belcourt positions mourning as a defining aspect of an active and resistant subject and proposes that the future must address this subject head on.

Unwilling: Exercises in Melancholy will be on view March 23 through April 27 at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. To celebrate the exhibit’s opening, there will be several events during its first week. On March 22, ahead of the official opening, a roundtable with four of the featured artists and the two curators will be held from 4:30 to -6:30 p.m. in the College’s new Visual Culture, Arts, and Media (VCAM) building, room 201. On March 23, Justine A. Chambers will perform an all-day, campus-wide, site-specific commission, ten thousand times and one hundred more. And later that day, at 4:30 p.m., there will be a talk with the curators followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m., featuring Ginger Brooks Takahashi’s Wyrt Blod Gruyt, a custom-made beer commissioned specifically for the exhibit and brewed in collaboration with Meredith Rebar Williams and Home Brewed Events. For further event details: exhibits.haverford.edu/unwilling.

Unwilling: Exercises in Melancholy is made possible with support from the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities. The exhibition is organized in conjunction with the Hurford Center’s 2017-18 faculty seminar “The Arts of Melancholy,” which is led by John B. Whitehead Professor of Humanities and Professor of Music Richard Freedman.

Overseen by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and located in Whitehead Campus Center, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays until 8 p.m. For more information, contact Matthew Seamus Callinan, associate director of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and campus exhibitions, at (610) 896-1287 or mcallina@haverford.edu, or visit the exhibitions program website: www.haverford.edu/exhibits.

Haverford College is located at 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, Pa., 19041

Thank you to Rebecca Raber for the content of this post.

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