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Art Art Theory and Movements Film Modern Period Performance and Conceptual Photography Visual Arts

The Other Other Revisted

I posted an entry about ‘The Other Other show some time ago and wanted to post something more substantial. This is long overdue and a work in progress. Hopefully, I can give a worthy reflection and summation of the show, which includes artists, JC LenochanEric SanchezLuther Thie, and Kathryn Williamson.

So, what exactly is the  notion of “Other”? I’ve always thought exploring ‘otherness’ was a rather futile concept until now. I think much of that had to do with my issue of how I consider myself within a group or community. Being a queer Filipina woman, I always thought you can’t more ‘other’ than that, can you? I was very wrong. I know there’s a big ole world out there filled with so many differnt types of individuals into all different sorts of things and creating a wide array of sub-cultures. Yes, I did in fact realize some time ago that there’s so much more to the concept of ‘Other’ and ‘Otherness’ than ethnicity, sex, and gender. Lenochan, Sanchez, Thie and Williamson go beyond vernacular understanding of ‘Other’. They dig deeper than most for this particular show and showcase various perceptions of ‘Other’.

Lenochan draws us into a history lesson by creating a two dimensional pieces that conjure up an culmination of historical refernces. In the viewer’s mind, there is a re-visiting of textbooks and lectures. The green chalkboard balanced by a muted fire engine red chalkboard are displayed against a large white wall. Remnants of the past help us conceive, even further, the idea of someone outside of ourselves. The viewer starts to piece together their own recollections and fragmented understanding of the past.

With my own aspirations of looking at ‘Other’, Lenochan does a phenomenal job at utlizing traditional media to showcase a powerful message about the intersections of race, ethincity, culture, sub-culture, histories and a collective conscious through his multi-layered drawings.

Eric Sanchez’s work, Animalia Hybrids, is a jarring look at the topic at hand via cross pollination of a readily known subject matter – care for other. He alludes to care for other(s), in this case, children and animals or pets through optical illusion. Upon visiting his site, you learn a bit more about the impetus of his project by combining notions of care for children and care for animals or pets. Outside of the gallery, you’ve probably heard a pet owner refer to his/her pet as their ‘baby’ or ‘child’. What I find visually challenging and engaging about Sanchez’s work is that he takes that very notion and shows you and extracts a response of your own notions of care into question. He throws the viewer into a serious connundrum when through his photographic depictions of care for ‘other’.

Luther Thie’s work combines one’s past experiences and real depictions of real people for the viewer that is randomly generated through a special Jitter program. The engagement required by the viewer is the crux of the piece. Although humorous at first glance, there’s a sense of guilt that sets in as I watched the participants giggling while answering the questions posed by the program. For example, an older chinese man’s photograph would come up with the question, “Do you find this individual attractive?” or “Do you find this individual suspicious?” One begins to take into account the very nature of their own judgements of ‘other’. The questioning then turns to the viewer and how they are perceived by others. The circular effect created by Thie’s work is a testament how the questioning ‘otherness’, we start to question ourselves.

By Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina American writer, artist, and educator whose academic and research interests include feminist media histories, critical medical anthropology, race and technology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is a Ph.D. student in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow. Her work as been exhibited at Ars Electronica, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the GLBT Historical Society.

Her writing appears in art21, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, Ars Technica, Vice Motherboard, and SF MOMA’s Open Space. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. She is a co-founder of REFRESH, a politically-engaged art and curatorial collective and serves as the program manager for the Processing Foundation.

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