Currently open at Gallery 3 of Mareea Farrasco’s MAGOLand is Mindstorm, an exhibition of art by Bamboo Barnes which opened on October 6th, 2021.
Hailing from Japan, Bamboo is, as I’ve frequently noted, one of the most vibrant, evocative, provocative, and emotive artists displaying her work in Second Life. She is also an artist unafraid of plumbing the depth of emotion and introspection – and this is again true with Mindstorm, which presents a series of images she has been working on for “a few years”.
The best way to describer this exhibition is to perhaps use Bamboo’s own words:
When you are feeling low, isolated, misunderstood. Look at your disturbed soul pretending it never hurts, The ocean of the pain roar to sweep all the goodness from you so you can feel the bottom. Like the wind and the tide, there are no keys to open the sea, keep you face over the surface to keep the breath. When the sun is up your skin is dry, start feel it’s in the past, then life goes on, there’s another day.
Don’t know what will come tomorrow, beneath the surface there is mindstorm.
Bamboo Barnes, describing Mindstorm
Presented in Bamboo’s familiar bold colours, the 16 images within the exhibit are joined by a number of 3rd part 3D pieces she has also textured, which together offer very visual statements on state-of-mind / relationships, which through presentation and colour emphasis speak loudly to mood and feelings.
As introspective pieces, these might be seen – not incorrectly – as reflections of Bamboo’s moods. Again, and as I’ve note before, her work is strongly bound with her mood, whether drawn directly from the emotions of life or as a result of the music to which she is listening while creating a piece. However, and as her own notes for the exhibition state, these are pieces to which anyone who has weathered feelings of isolation – not so much as a result of the on-going pandemic, but due to circumstances of life such as the ending of a relationship or an (obtuse?) misunderstanding directed towards you or the hurt inflected by the actions or words of another, and so on – can identify.
I’m not sure how long Mindstorm is set to run, but I do recommend it as an exhibition worthy of seeing.
Please use the teleport disk from the landing point below to reach the gallery.
There is something about Monique Beebe’s avatar-centric images that never fails to attract my attention. Her work has a unique blend of art, narrative, post-processing skill, and layering that allows her to create single-frame stories that carry a depth of mean that demands the attention of the eye and mind.
This is once again the case with Images of Decay, which opened at Mareea Farrasco’s IMAGOLand (Gallery 1b – use the teleport disk at the landing point) on September 2nd. Here Moni offers a selection of images with a central theme which wraps itself in layer of possible interpretation – whilst also allowing the observer to view them as intriguing studies in the use of light, colour and balance to present a captivating self-portrait.
The title of the exhibition – Images of Decay – might sound a little off-putting, but as noted, it can be taken on a number of levels. Predominantly offered in dark dark tones and colours – burnt umber, burgundy reds, shades of black and grey, these are intentionally “dark” images, each piece post-processed to add a rusting, metallic look to it, a discolouration that marks face, breast, arm, and so on. In some of the images, it is highly pronounced, in others it is more of a mottling. In one or two cases, due to the use of projected light and post-processed filters, it is subtle enough to give the impression of tattooing.
As a first interpretation, this filtering / colouring might be seen as simple expressive colour play on the part of the artist. On another, and taking the title of the exhibition into consideration, they might be might be seen as experiments in giving a sense of age / the passage of time to the images themselves. It might also be taken as a reflection of life itself, and the undeniable fact that we are all doomed to grow older, age, whither, die and decay; that the beauty / vitality we have today is actual impermanent – but in being so, it is also part of life’s greater cycle.
This latter layer narrative is perhaps most clearly seen within the trio of images Girl, Lady,Woman, the idea of aging is clearly represented in the images as we take each in turn. So so might they also speak to how society can perceive women as they age, and our beauty is seen as fading over time (or to put it another way, decaying with the passage of time).
There is an emotional content present within these pieces that adds additional layers to them. Many either directly or indirectly draw attention to the subject – to Moni’s – eyes, be it through the use of masks or eye shadow to highlight them, or face masks bubble gum or even the wrap of a turban to obscure other parts of the face or the eyes themselves. In this way, we are drawn to each image and inhabit the emotions we might perceive as being present within them. Elsewhere, this emotional content is transmitted through the use of pose and lighting.
In places, this emotional element speaks directly to the idea of decay and the passage of time, in others, in other, the idea of decay emphasises the emotional content of a piece. Take, for example, Innocence and Light of Sadness. Within them the colours of decay do much to convey the essential emotion within them – the loss of innocence if the former, and the pain of sadness in the latter.
Taken individually as as a whole, this is another richly engaging exhibition by Moni, one that should not be missed.
I’ve been visiting Mareena Farrasco’s IMAGO art gallery in its various forms for the last few years (check the IMAGOLand tag in this blog). However, and as Shawn Shakespeare recently reminded me, I haven’t dropped in to see it since Mareena relocated and expanded its offerings using her IMAGOLand title.
The new location continues to offer art exhibitions – the galleries now located in skyboxes, rather than using the ground level’s open spaces as once was the case for IMAGO. Waht’s more, they share the sky with a number of other public areas which are connected to the ground via a teleport network.
The ground itself presents an open, low-lying island which is probably best thought of as offering a series of populated vignettes rather than having a contiguous theme stretching through it. There’s no set landing point, so I’ve arbitrarily selected a location nor far from the region’s centre, where sits a teleport disk and a directory of destinations (sit on the disk for the menu dialogue in order to TP rather than touching the directory).
Close by is one of the vignettes: an open-air dance floor and stage where an Animesh band is playing. Most of them appear to be engaged in a ballad of some kind, although one of the guitarists looks as if she’s off in a hard rock / metal riff of her own!
Beyond this stage lies a bar where patrons and staff are engaged in coming, greetings and reading – and thus the frame of the island is set: simply wander the landscape and you’ll come across much such settings, some large, others small. Some can be reached via the teleport system, but it’s honestly worth taking the time to wander on foot, as there are some that can be easily missed just hopping point-to-point. The use of static and Animesh NPCs helps to give the setting an interesting sense of life – particularly along the beach (although I wouldn’t recommend arguing with the seagulls laying claim to the little rowing boats – they are big enough to make their objections felt!).
When you feel you’ve seen all the ground has to offer, the teleport system can be used to reach the gallery spaces. At the time of my visit, these were home to exhibitions by Mareena and Carelyna (Carelyna Resident).
In Gallery 1, Mareena presents Painting the Summer, an utterly gorgeous collection of rendered paintings taken from around Second Life that capture the warmth and delight of slow summer days, both in subject and the muted tones used in their post-processing.
Looking through the images within the exhibition, I realised that Mareena and I are frequently drawn to similar focal points for our images – notably bicycles and rowing boats. However, Mareena has a superb talent not only for turning her images into watercolour-like works of art, she also frames them in a way that tells a story – a technique I have yet to come anywhere near achieving; these are painting that you feel you could simply step into and explore, or join her as she sits or stands in contemplation within some of them.
Red Alert is the title of Carelyna’s striking and evocative exhibit, occupying the second gallery space and featuring 15 large format images together with a series of oversized props.
It may at first be difficult to assess whether there is a central theme within this selection that reaches beyond the predominant use of red within all of them. However, closer examination of each image together with its title helps crystallise the theme of danger – hence Red Alert – each represents.
This danger spans the personal – as seen in the likes of Femme Flamme, with its essence of la femme fatale, Addiction, Alone With Myself with its suggestion of isolation and depression – to more global themes of concern such as global warming (Crying out for Rain and the Titular Red Alert) and ecological disaster (Burning Forest. some, like Never Enough…. appear to span both personal and global excesses (personal exemplified in the idea of spending too much time in the Sun; global suggested by the vivid red and the loss of our protective ozone).
Rendered in styles that range from painting to etching, and which mix elements of abstraction and expressionism, this is a genuinely stylish collection of images that can be appreciated both for the artistry involved in each piece and for the interweaving of ideas and expressions.
Beyond the galleries,the teleport network can also be used to reach a photographic studio(although props cannot be rezzed even by group members) and a little setting called Storyteller Burrow, which I admit I’m not clear on as to its purpose. These share the same platform with one another and a small club space, although the latter was not connected to the teleport system at the time of my visit., so many or may not be part of the main facilities within the region.
Art remains the primary attraction at IMAGOLand, although the ground level offers its own attractions as well. As such, I look forward to seeing what future exhibitions are unveiled here.
Currently open at Imago Gallery, owned and curated by Mareea Farrasco is an ensemble exhibition entitled Landscapes and featuring the work of Blip Mumfuzz, Carelyna, Michiel Bechir and Tresore Prada. Together they present views of regions and places within Second Life that encourage a desire to visit them whilst also allowing us a glimpse at them through the artists’ eyes and narrative framing.
Within the gallery’s lower floor left side hall, Tresore Prada offers thirteen pieces that might be said to reveal places within Second Life, but also the passing of the seasons from winter to summer and mixing cooler shades that might suggest spring and autumn.
These are pieces that all immediately draw the eye and offer a story; whose house is that beyond the snow-bound bridge? Does it belong to the artist, or to a friend they were on their way through the deep snow to visit? Has the cat lying on the sun-warmed wall simply found a place to rest whilst wandering, or does it call the little cottage across a summery river home? What are the promises to be found off the canvas of each of the trio of images depicting little boats on or near the water? The threads of possible stories exist within each piece, simply awaiting you imagination to thread them together.
Across the hall, Carelyna also presents a baker’s dozen of images, all of which have been processed and finished to offer a painted-like composition of the settings she has captured. Suggestive of a mix of oil and watercolour works, these offer some unique perspectives on popular SL destinations. Take Littlesquaw’s Midnight in Paris (which I wrote about back in November 2020) as an example; normally witnessed at night by visitors, Carelyna here offers a view across its rive Seine towards the Eiffel Tower rich in the colours and tints of an Autumn day. On the opposite wall, her take of Takoma presents a impressionist style take on the subject that brings to mind the likes of Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire.
The upper floor of the gallery is split between an open mezzanine area and a second hall running across the back of the gallery. The mezzanine is home to the display by Michiel Bechir, who offers a selection of eight images that stand not only as landscape pieces but also studies of the architecture of Second Life, with two focused as they are on a large manor house seen under different conditions with two more presenting views of settings redolent of older parts of US cities like New York. Offered as both colour and monochrome images, this selection allows us to see the diversity of Michiel’s approach to, and presentation of, his SL photography.
In the rear hall, Blip Mumfuzz presents a series of images in her own inimitable style. Far removed from might be called “conventional”, they border on the abstract; rich in colour, their form taken by the rise of grasses against the sky, against a backdrop of open water or curtain of tress. Frequently flecked by by out-of-focus elements dotting the air above them, these are pieces that are very much reflective of the moment in which they were captured – the soft-focus elements suggestive of seeds caught on the breeze, carrying with the the promise of new life; the colours reflecting the fact that these are not images of places just seen, but places both seen and re-imagined by the mind’s eye in the same instant.
Blip’s exhibition is also semi-immersive: climb the steps and walk the photo-mural of the stream; imagine the coolness of the water about your feet and look out into the scenes on either side and both in front of you and behind you, and let your mind wander free…
Four very individual and very captivating exhibitions well work dropping in to see.
Currently available at Mareea Farrasco’s IMAGO Gallery for visitors to appreciate is an exhibition of avatar studies by Liz Winterstorm (TinLiz) that is – in four words – beautifully and emotionally expressive.
Presenting 28 avatar studies, all of which are either black-and-white or soft monochrome, every one of the presented works is powerfully evocative in its narrative and emotional content, each one perfectly framed and presented, making the entire selection an extraordinary must-see exhibition.
Taken without external post-processing enhancement – Liz notes she simply does not have the patience to learn PhotoShop, these are images show that Liz has an innate grasp of lighting, and the use of light and shadow through her selection of Windlight environments in order to express her pieces.
While the selection is untitled (other than Liz Winterstorm at IAMGO), there appears to be a twist of thematic threads running through the images. The first might be seen as purely reflective of emotional states arising from a relationship – particularly those images that involve two figures. There are emotional responses anyone has likely experienced through the ups and downs and turmoil that are a part of many (all?) relationships.
The second thread, equally as evocative, might be seen as a considered reflection of the way many of us have felt at one point or another through the past year: loneliness, emptiness, of wanting things to be over, separation, of being unable to escape (the world’s woes?), anger.
It is this layering of ideas – or at least, suggestions of ideas – that gives this exhibition its depth. But it is not the only thing; as noted Liz has a magnificent approach to using the natural environment through Windlight settings and framing to create pieces that are genuinely visually impressive. Just take a look at Shunned as an example, the use of a pure white lighting and background, coupled with the pose and row of seats gives the piece a quite remarkable depth and emotional focus that can be felt within whichever narrative thread you choose to follow.
As a second example of this narrative and visual richness, take Apocalyptica; it’s title alone is powerful and the imagery fully reflective of either theme. But there is perhaps more here; within the picture is what seems to be a direct reference to the Finnish band itself and the lyrics from their single Life Burns. And this abundance of narrative and imagery flows across all 28 pieces in the exhibition.
Very definitely not an exhibition to be missed by those who appreciate Second Life art and photography.
Recently renewed and reformed, the All4Art Project, managed by Carelyna Resident, opened its latest ensemble exhibition at IMAGOLand, on September 17th, 2020. It features the work of Sandi Benelli, Leonorah Beverly, Carey Chenault, Carisa Franizzi, Rose Hanry, Black Rose and Carelyna, together with Mareea Farrasco, who is also providing the setting for the exhibition on her IMAGO Land.
Described as being attached Mareea’s IMAGO Galleries, IMAGO Land is described as “an open area for visitors who love to explore or simply relax and for landscape photographers. Conceived as small islands, the different spots have different destinations: a park, a fishers village, a vacation resort, a beach, a country home with its yard, a bar and a dance floor, etc. As such, the location is perfect for the art on display, given the emphasis throughout on natural and natural – particularly coastal – settings.
The landing point for the exhibition sits within what might be called the social / events area of this half-region design, located on one of the larger islands in the the group that includes the dance floor and an old barn converted into a simple bar area. From here, three wooden board walks offer a choice of routes around the rest of the setting – which you take is entirely up to you, as the art is spread out around the various islands awaiting discovery as one explores.
Most of the artists participating in the exhibition are well known in these pages, and seeing them all together offers a delightfully complementary and also contrasting selection of images. Each artist has provided 5 images for the exhibition with some presenting their work on both sides of each canvas, simply because the layout of the island means their work can be seen / approached from either side.
With the exception of Black Rose, who provides a set of stunning original paintings, all of the images presented have been captured in Second Life. With a similar exception of Carisa Franizzi, who offers five black and white images that can quite capture the eye, all are presented in colour, from the soft tones of images post-processed to give a watercolour look and feel, to the vibrant hues and tones of Autumn and and bright hues of summer cast through an oil painting like finish.
Together, all of the images presented through this exhibition help remind us that beyond the walls of self-isolation and the constraints of social distancing and limited travel opportunities, there is still a rich and vibrant world around us. A world, one might be tempted to say, that is doing rather well because of our enforced absence – but will nevertheless be waiting to greet our return when times are such that we can once again roam freely and appreciate all of nature’s delights. Further, many of the places presented in these images remind us, however subliminally, that humans and nature can get along side-by-side.