Setting out to view this show at the newly renamed UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum (AD&A), I half expected to enter the standard white-box gallery, perhaps filled with framed images of ruins. Instead, I discovered something unique and different — among other objects, there was an eight-foot-high cardboard castle. Artist Rob Voerman’s site-specific installation was just one of the surprises in store for me in the AD&A’s current show, The Stumbling Present: Ruins in Contemporary Art. This exhibition, curated by Elyse A. Gonzalez, toes the line between playfulness and serious reflection, and brings a fresh perspective to the concept of destruction in art. The Stumbling Present challenges the viewer not only to address the ruins present within the artworks themselves but also to examine issues of loss and transience within their own lives. Take, for example, Valerie Hegarty’s “Ship, Wallpaper, and Floorboards with Flood Damage,” another installation piece created specifically for this exhibit. Here, the consequences of a situation much like the one confronting millions of people on the East Coast right now as a result of Hurricane Sandy are played out in an assemblage including both handcrafted and readymade artifacts. Each piece in the show depicts destruction differently, some through visual deterioration, others through the use of audio clips and digitized visuals. The Stumbling Present will be on view through January 20, 2013, and admission to the AD&A Museum is free. For more information, visit www.museum.ucsb.edu/exhibitions. Below are four reasons to check it out.
1) Come As You Are: The gallery is open Wednesday-Sunday from noon-5 p.m. No background knowledge or art education is needed to appreciate the beauty and intrigue of the pieces on display in this exhibition.
2) Variety: The show features a wide range of media; everything from silk screens to film clips, and no two pieces use the same techniques.
3) Explore: Yes, you can! Touch the art, that is. Well, some of it. The show encourages the viewer to become engaged and connect with the art both physically and mentally.
4) The Clock Is Ticking: This is a traveling show, and it won’t be here forever. And, given the subject matter, you might want to check it out before it falls further apart.