Sculpture and Installation
Y2K group at 5A, Brooklyn, NY
Illuminator is an exhibition by Laura Bernstein composed of new sculpture with painting, works on paper and video. In this installation, Bernstein works within the liminal space of pictures and words while drawing on the imagery of anonymous authors who illuminated medieval manuscripts. Illuminator centers itself around a sexless wing finned figure, embedded with candles and barnacles--a humanoid candelabra--dripping, melting and congealing fleshy, gilded wax. Though the monks and nuns who illuminated manuscripts were forbidden from working in the dark or using candles for fear that their illuminations might go up in flames, Illuminator is built to both emit light and act as an alter/vessel for prayer. Presiding over a floor painting depicting the Fall of Babylon as an upside down city inspired by the “Bamberg Apocalypse 1000 A.D”, Bernstein’s works explore loss as a form of transformation that provides clarity of vision. Bernstein meditates on illuminated manuscripts as early picture books, stone animals as gods, and fire and water as fundamental tools for animation. In Pages From An Apocalyptic Picture Book, Bernstein reinterprets thumbnail images from the margins of encyclopedias of western civilization documenting medieval times. Infusing the black and white pictures with color, and adding, omitting or reorienting the composition and scale, Bernstein looks to these flat pictures in an effort to understand images as a form of narrative building and story telling rather than art.
Animals That Turned To Stone is a video by Bernstein made in collaboration with Emily Taibleson on a 2019 trip to Rome, where Bernstein and Taibleson both studied in 2008. Their 2019 trip marks the first time they have both returned. Traversing the city on a “stone safari”, Bernstein and Taibleson went in search of dragons, lions, falcons, serpents, centaurs, Sphinx’s and more to capture and record all the beasts they could find (within reach). Simultaneous to filming, they read to each other aloud from the epic poem “Metamorphoses” by the Roman poet Ovid. Within this digital document, Bernstein and Taibleson contemplate the symbolism, mythology, morality and spirit of the ancient stone beasts filmed within the context of our climate crisis. Propelled by the current administration’s denial of and inability to protect, preserve, and remediate and restore our environment and the countless species at risk of extinction, Animals That Turned To Stone looks to the calcified past to speculate on the petrified future where creatures once alive exist only in stone.
Hybrid EcologiesBridge Projects, Children’s Museum of Art, NY, NY
Taking inspiration from The Book of Miracles, an illustrated manuscript depicting miraculous phenomena and awesome apocalyptic visions of the 16th century, Hybrid Ecologies looks to the past — ancient and medieval mythology — to speculate on the future of our changing times. As visitors travel through Hybrid Ecologies, the boundaries known to separate ecosystems collapse and begin to break. Creatures of the sea swim with those who fly in the sky, while sharing terrain with those known to inhabit the land. Desert, forest, and mountains converge. Fusing and confusing space and form and new relationships between species are built. As these barriers are shattered, visitors are invited step inside the suspended forms that act as helmets, to contemplate possibilities for cohabitation, mutation, and hybridization. With extinction and devastation comes the need for imagination, possibility for revelation, the discovery of new creation. An evolving community full of transformation and metamorphoses, Hybrid Ecologies offers visitors the opportunity to play within a living diorama to experience shifts in scale and time, to imagine a world where borders are fluid between all living species.
Accordion Suits for Commutes, roving public performance,Greensboro, NC, 2014
Created at Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, NC and performed in collaboration with dancers and choreographers Cynthia Ling Lee, Brianna Taylor and their students. Accordion Suits for Commutes uses men's blazers from the museum’s collection as a foundation for creating collaborative clothing that examines group dynamics, movement negotiations and locomotion throughout the city’s center.
Finding The FallPublic performance, Philadelphia, PA and Vienna, Austria 2013-14
Documentation of a public performance, Vienna, Austria, 2014. A displaced parachutist explores the social geography of various urban environments while searching for the action that propelled her into the space she walks.
(Installation at Franz Joseph Kai Gallery, Vienna, Austria) Newsprint, recycled texts, photocopies of ink drawings, papier-mâché, cardboard. Dimensions variable. The carousel’s radial symmetry acts as a focal point for a variety of actions and events to unfold--similar to early gymnasiums--where bodies bend and flex to “shed skin” and mold into what is imagined as a “more desirable” version of self. The Carousel holds hanging helmets instead of horses. Inside the helmets are fragmented drawings of figures exercising and training.
3:07 HD three channel video performance (color, sound)
The Velcro and wool figures navigate their physical relationships within various institutional and transitional spaces, such as the library and the elevator.
In The Shape of a Watch-Coat2012
Wool and wooden peg, 30” x 12” x 67”
Based off of a passage from Moby-Dick from The Mast-Head chapter. Ishmael analogizes a house to an ‘unclad body’. Displayed at the Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 2012--2018.