A most exciting aspect of GSU’s art department is that they pay for the best of the best to come visit. And even more so in the photography department: we were honored by Yale and GSU Alum performance artist Anya Liftig.
My first experience of Anya Liftig was from a previous professor who shared her Wonder video performance. I was appalled, disgusted, intrigued, and terrified. I was not, and still am, disinterested in most performance art. It’s mystifying to me at best. I could easily relate my intellectual experience with Anya Liftig’s work to my first official college art class that started with a urinal on the table and the question “Is this art?”
Anya’s talk at GSU was intimate and drew a comprehensive line from her entrance into GSU as a photo-based grad student seeking beautiful black and white pictures of her less familiar Kentucky hillbilly family to her graduating performance where she walked into the gallery nude asking “Do you have any questions?”
Following the complicated, yet intelligent path from disassociation from external identitifying elements to internal phenomenological elements as the context for the move from photography to performance made performance make sense, especially within Anya’s comical and unexpected work.
Her overarching desire to simply experience things reminds me of the curiosity and selfishness that commandeers learning and discovering in children; this to me is such an intelligent way to navigate life as an individual in a sea of other individuals.
Georgia State University features its MFA graduates in spurts of weekly reveals. The series of MFA exit shows kicked off with photo-based artists Tyler Mann and Ben B. Lee as well as mixed media artist Elham Masoudi.
Tyler Mann’s series A few weeks, maybe months brings to us soothing, traditional landscapes, car window landscapes, and urinals in a look at the experience of a transgendered man on a road trip. The various urinals draw to light internal dialogues with bathroom etiquette and familiarity while the intermittent landscapes ground us in a solo adventure across land. The banal, but beautiful, treatment of composition and eye to color narrate a beautiful story of an “unfamiliar” lifestyle for viewers to consider.
Ben B. Lee creates narratives in The feeling of being ok. Repitition–certainly a form a visual alliteration–finds itself looming throughout Ben’s work. From a triptych of the birth of a boy next to a man gutting his game, finalized by a sentence about a boy and his father. Elements and notes about manhood, boyhood, and fatherhood underlie the work overall, highlighting perhaps a learned gender space that is engrained within snapshot image culture.
Elham Masoudi looks at the censorship of the body within the context of Islamic ideology in her works on paper as well as mixed media installations. Her pixelated forms disembody women into generalized colors and designs familiarly seen in garments worn to avoid showing off one’s body. The use of typical colors and designs grounds the work in an ethnic and religious context while the pixelation dehumanizes the subjects.