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Quest for Permanence

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 New FGCU 6The Art Galleries of the Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) present “Quest for Permanence,” with an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 at the Main Gallery in the Arts Complex. The evening will begin with an introduction by the artists followed by a performance from Ghostbird Theatre and a reception. This exhibition is a collaboration between the art and theatre faculty and the Galleries, and is co-curated by Gallery Director, John Loscuito, and FGCU professors, Barry Cavin (theatre) and Michael Salmond (art). The exhibition runs through June 23, and is sponsored in part by Gene and Lee New FGCU 4Seidler, The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel and WGCU Public Media.

“’Quest for Permanence’ is an exhibit of work that examines humans at play over time in its many forms and the tensions that arise as time and place collide,” said co-curator Barry Cavin. “Quest for Permanence” features local, national and international artists Kent Anderson Butler, Hasan New FGCU 3Elahi, Benjamin Grosser, Chad Jensen, Leila Mesdaghi, Ghostbird Theatre and Cyane Tornatzky. The exhibition includes prints, video installation, projection, sculpture, interface design, and a zoetrope.

The gallery is in the Arts Complex on FGCU’s main New FGCU 2campus at 10501 FGCU Blvd. S. Parking is available in Lot 7 for gallery visitors. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday.

For more on this exhibit and the artists who are participating in it, please continue reading.

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With ‘Deeper Than Sorrow,’ FGCU art grad Leila Mesdaghi explores impermanence of memory (05-21-16)

L Mesdaghi 07When Gallery Director John Loscuito invited Leila Mesdaghi to join the exhibitors in Quest for Permanence, she was flattered. After all, the ink on her art degree from FGCU was barely dry. But then she got to thinking about the theme of the exhibition. Quest for Permanence. Quest for permanence.

“I did [Deeper Than Sorrow] specifically for this show in a pool in my father’s garden in Tehran that has been sitting empty for the past forty years,” Leila L Mesdaghi 09told the crowd that assembled for the opening of the exhibit on May 17. “My father’s home is still there, one of the few original homes left in the neighborhood.” In fact, she noted that her plans to inscribe the memories of her childhood on the walls of the empty pool were altered by the demolition of the house next door. “During the day, there was all this debris flying around,” she L Mesdaghi 06related. “So I could only go into the pool early in the morning and late in the afternoon.”

Her concept was straightforward. “The pool has been the witness to our lives there,” Leila remarked as she stood in front of a simulated pool on the floor of the FGCU art gallery. “There were ten of us living there. My mom, my dad, my aunt and my uncle, and we moved away from there one after the other until only my dad and my uncle are still living in that house.”

While Quest for Permanence is the theme of the exhibition, everyone acknowledges that memory is temporal, at best. It fades and become L Mesdaghi 03murky with the passage of time. In later life, it can be lost entirely to the ravages of advancing age or diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Syndrome. “Most people know there are two kinds of memory, short-term and long-term. What you may not know is that each time you pull up a long-term memory and review it, you alter it. In time, that memory can become false entirely, or L Mesdaghi 05falsity papered over reality,” writes author Cedar Sanderson in “The Impermanence of Memory.”

Even though Leila and most of her family are physically absent from the home, there remains evidence of them throughout the structure. “Our stuff, such as old books we once read, is still all around the house.” And that stuff in combination L Mesdaghi 07with her father’s and uncle’s recollections helped Leila piece together memories of the past. Some fresh. Others long forgotten.

But in addition to the fragility of memory, Mesdaghi also discovered that what we recall is tempered by our perceptions both at the time an even occurred as well as at the time the event is recalled. That’s why eyewitness testimony is regarded by police detectives and lawyers as inherently unreliable.

L Mesdaghi 08Still, Leila was inspired to recover, recreate and give voice to the events which her father’s pool witnessed over four decades as the family interacted with each other and the outside world as they lived their daily lives. “The house is the physical location of all these secrets,” Leila added wistfully during the exhibition’s opening Gallery Talk. “I used the pool as a personal piece to reflect L Mesdaghi 12the memories that we all have and can relate to. Who died, who got married, who beat up someone. Like most families, not all the memories there are sweet.”

And so with the help of her son and her father, Mesdaghi cleaned the cracked and faded walls of the empty pool and then began inscribing into the concrete the happenings she recalled. “Her L Mesdaghi 13marks behave as an instrument to recuperate from the pain of separation, opening a dialogue between memory and perception, alluding to a universal longing,” states the syllabus to Deeper Than Sorrow.

Mesdaghi recorded each mark-making session and combined 150 stills on three laminated panels L Mesdaghi 02hung at a downward angle facing the reflection pool on the gallery floor. Taken together, the stills merge and blend together metaphorically in much the same way that events are often mixed together and intertwined in our minds, forcing us to struggle to resurrect individual occurrences and recall them with some semblance of clarity and accuracy.

L Mesdaghi 11But look at those same images through the medium of the reflection pool! Not only are they reversed, they are distorted as well in a way that draws parallels to Dali’s Persistence of Memory.

“The marks she leaves behind will fade as time goes by,” the plaque on the wall of the Art Gallery at FGCU concedes, “but the memory of her L Mesdaghi 04presence will always remain.” Perhaps, but will the memory of the family’s presence be accessible to them or to others … and for how long?

Quest for Permanence.

Maybe it’s enough for memory to last as long as there remains someone, anyone, with an interest in recalling it. For memory to endure beyond that, we must enter the exalted realm of legacy, which Quest 1is, after all, a more revered and sacrosanct quest for permanence.

Be that as it may, Leile Mesdaghi continues to create thought-provoking and challenging visual and interactive art pieces. And with a shiny new degree from FGCU, she’s only getting started.

You go girl!

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‘Quest for Permanence’ opens at Art Gallery at FGCU (05-20-16)

Loscuito 01Quest for Permanence opened inside the Art Gallery at FGCU on Thursday, May 19 with a Gallery Talk by the curators and three of the artists participating in the show together with a conceptual performance by members of Ghostbird Theatre that would have made conceptual artist Yoko Ono sit up and take notice.

Quest for Permanence features works by local, Chad Jensen 02national and international artists Kent Anderson Butler, Hasan Elahi, Benjamin Grosser, Chad Jensen (2nd photo), Ghostbird Theatre, Cyane Tornatzky (who flew in from Colorado just for the opening and is depicted in the 3rd photo) and popular recent FGCU art grad Leila Mesdaghi. A collaboration between Gallery Director John Loscuito, Visual Arts Professor Michael Salmond Cyane 02and FGCU theater professor Barry Cavin, the exhibition includes prints, video installations, projection, sculpture, interface design and a zoetrope. The exhibition runs through June 23, and is sponsored in part by Gene and Lee Seidler, The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel and WGCU Public Media.

The gallery is in the Arts Complex on FGCU’s main campus at 10501 FGCU Blvd. S. Parking is available in Lot 7 for gallery visitors. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday.

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Hasan Elahi’s contribution to ‘Quest for Permanence’ spurred by six-month long FBI investigation (05-18-16)

New FGCU 3The Art Galleries of the Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) present Quest for Permanence, with an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 at the Main Gallery in the Arts Complex. The exhibition features prints, video installations, projection, sculpture, interface design and zoetropes by local, national and international artists Kent Anderson Butler, Hasan Elahi, Benjamin Grosser, Chad Jensen, Leila Mesdaghi and Cyane Tornatzky, along with a performance by Ghostbird Theatre on opening night.

After an erroneous tip linking the artist to terrorist activities led to a six-month-long FBI investigation, Hasan Elahi began to voluntarily monitor himself by photographing mundane details from his daily life and sending these images — hundreds of them each week for over a dozen years — to the FBI. Thousand Little Brothers v4 is a detail from a composite image made up of approximately 32,000 images from that ongoing project. The colored panels refer to SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) color bars. This television test pattern has been used in the United States for Emergency Broadcast System tests, during which regular programming would be disrupted and this pattern would appear.

Hasan Elahi is an Associate Professor of Art at University of Maryland and from 2011 to 2014 was Director of Design | Cultures + Creativity in the Honors College. He was a 2010 Alpert/MacDowell Fellow and in 2009, he was Resident Faculty and Nancy G. MacGrath Endowed Chair at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Quest for Permanence opens at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 with an introduction of artists followed by a performance by Ghostbird Theatre and reception that lasts until 7:00 p.m. The exhibition will remain on display in the main gallery through June 23. The gallery is in the Arts Complex on FGCU’s main campus at 10501 FGCU Blvd. S. Parking is available in Lot 7 for gallery visitors. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday.

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‘Tracing Ghosts’ reflects on nature of temporality and the way our memories shape the present moment (05-13-16)

New FGCU 5The Art Galleries of the Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) present “Quest for Permanence,” with an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 at the Main Gallery in the Arts Complex. The exhibition features prints, video installations, projection, sculpture, interface design and zoetropes by local, national and New FGCU 59international artists Kent Anderson Butler, Hasan Elahi, Benjamin Grosser, Chad Jensen, Leila Mesdaghi and Cyane Tornatzky, along with a performance by Ghostbird Theatre on opening night.

Ghostbird calls its performance piece Tracing Ghosts. A collaborative performance between New FGCU 58founding members Brittney Brady, Jim Brock, Katelyn Gravel and Philip Heubeck, Tracing Ghosts combines poetry, live soundscapes and movement. The 30 minute performance reflects on the nature of temporality and the way our memories reshape and redefine what was once the present moment. The sculptural remnants of this live ritual will remain on display in the gallery space for the remainder of the exhibition. The remnants mirror our own memories of the performance as they are a kind of tangible memory and will change over time.

Ghostbird Theatre Company was founded in May of 2012 as the resident theatre company of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in Downtown Fort Myers.  This year, however, Ghostbird Theatre has taken flight, mounting four site-specific theatrical pieces throughout Lee County, two of them free and open to the general public. This performance is supported, in part, by grants from the City of Fort Myers and the Lee County Tourist Development Council.

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Quest for Permanence artist Kent Anderson Butler explores mind/body relationship in video installation (05-12-16)

KAB 5The Art Galleries of the Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) present “Quest for Permanence,” with an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 at the Main Gallery in the Arts Complex. The exhibition features prints, video installations, projection, KAB 4sculpture, interface design and zoetropes by local, national and international artists Kent Anderson Butler, Hasan Elahi, Benjamin Grosser, Chad Jensen, Leila Mesdaghi and Cyane Tornatzky, along with a performance by Ghostbird Theatre on opening night.

KAB 2Kent Anderson Butler is a Los Angeles based artist working in a variety of mediums including video installation, performance and photography. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally including:

  • The International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Venezuela,
  • Charlie James Gallery- Los Angeles,
  • The Pasadena Museum of California Art,
  • Fringe Exhibitions – Los Angeles,
  • Orange County Museum of Art,
  • KAB 6Cave Gallery- Brooklyn, NY,
  • Photo Miami,
  • Track 16 Gallery- Santa Monica,
  • Carl Berg Projects-West Hollywood,
  • Art Center College of Design, and
  • Hunter College, NY.

His video work is also in the video art libraries at Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, and Fringe Exhibitions.

As an artist, Butler explores his own body through mental and spiritual phenomena such as pain, pleasure, struggle, redemption, and restoration. For Quest for Permanence, he has created a series of four videos titled Play, KAB 7Bathe, Cleanse and Rest under the rubric of Sacred Encounters. Each is based on the relationship between sacred space, landscape/environment and the body. In Butler’s estimation, the soul is a seedbed for ideas, concepts and revelations. “Instead of regarding ourselves as human beings struggling to have some kind of spiritual experience, perhaps, we would consider the possibility that we are spiritual beings having a human experience,” states Butler quoting the religious philosopher Teilhard de Chardin. “And Quest Logothe human experience, as we know, for better or worse, is lived in the body.”

Kent Anderson Butler is the Director of Visual Art & Professor in the Department of Art & Design at Azusa Pacific University. He holds a M.F.A. in Creative Photography Emphasis from California State University, Fullerton, CA and a B.S. Art in Video and Film from Biola University, La Mirada, CA.

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With ‘Deeper Than Sorrow,’ FGCU grad Leila Mesdaghi explores space between presence and absence  (05-09-16)

droppedImage_2[1]The Art Galleries of the Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) present “Quest for Permanence,” with an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 at the Main Gallery in the Arts Complex. The exhibition features prints, video installations, projection, sculpture, interface design and zoetropes by local, national and international artists Kent Anderson Butler, Hasan Privilege of Removal Installation 08Elahi, Benjamin Grosser, Chad Jensen, Leila Mesdaghi and Cyane Tornatzky, along with a performance by Ghostbird Theatre on opening night.

In Deeper Than Sorrow, Leila enters an pool in her father’s garden in Tehran, Iran that has been sitting empty for the past forty years. After absorbing her surroundings, she starts writing on the cracked and faded walls of the pool. Her marks Leila in Black 3behave as an instrument to recuperate from the pain of separation, opening a dialogue between memory and perception, alluding to a universal longing. The marks she leaves behind will fade as time goes by, but the memory of her presence will always remain. By merging performance and video, she explores the space between presence and absence.

Leila Mesdaghi is a multi-media artist and she holds a B.A. in Art from Florida Gulf Coast University and a B.A. in Law from Tehran Azad University, Tehran, Iran.

And here’s some narrative about Leila Mesdaghi’s other performance art pieces.

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Spotlight on ‘Quest for Permanence’ artist Cyane Tornatzky (05-06-16)

New FGCU 6The Art Galleries of the Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) present “Quest for Permanence,” with an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 at the Main Gallery in the Arts Complex. The exhibition features prints, video installations, projection, sculpture, interface design and zoetropes by local, national and international artists Kent Anderson Butler, Hasan Elahi, Benjamin Grosser, Chad Jensen, Leila Mesdaghi and Cyane Tornatzky, along with a performance by Ghostbird Theatre on opening night.

In An Attempt at Recreating Utopia Through Mechanical Cyane 01Means: Babylon One and Two (2014), Cyane Tornatzky used a 3D modeling program in an attempt to “draw” utopian structures – in this case, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. In attempting to mediate/contemplate/honor/invoke this wonderland, she opens up a conversation about what it is we want from our dreams of a Cyane 03better world. For A Performative Action: Building a Utopia (2015), she took stills from a 10 hour video wherein she repeated the actions of a millworker from New Lanark’s period of utopian socialism. She used these images in the zoetrope to underscore the cyclical nature of societal approaches to utopias.

“In my art practice I use a variety of digitally manipulated mediums to explore different ideas and concepts,” Tornatzky remarks. “I try to use Cyane 021whimsy while I poke around issues I know best – issues of gender, technology, and what I think might make a better world. I think of each project as an investigation.”

Cyane Tornatsky is an Associate Professor of Art and Electronic Art Coordinator at Colorado State Cyane 04University. She holds a M.F.A. in Conceptual and Information Arts from San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA and a M.A. in Education, San Francisco State University and a BA in Philosophy from College of Wooster, Wooster, OH.

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Benjamin Grosser’s ‘Tracing You’ raises questions about online surveillance and data mining (05-05-16)

New FGCU 2The Art Galleries of the Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) present “Quest for Permanence,” with an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 at the Main Gallery in the Arts Complex. The exhibition features prints, video installations, projection, sculpture, interface design and Ben Grossman 05zoetropes by local, national and international artists Kent Anderson Butler, Hasan Elahi, Benjamin Grosser, Chad Jensen, Leila Mesdaghi and Cyane Tornatzky, along with a performance by Ghostbird Theatre on opening night.

Benjamin Grosser is an assistant professor in the School of Art + Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He holds an MFA in new media and an MM in music composition (both from UIUC). The web-based system that he Ben Grossman 06has devised for Quest for Permanence raises a number of questions:

  • What can a computational system know of our environment based on the traces we leave behind?
  • Why might it want to see where we are?
  • How accurate are the system’s data sources and Ben Grossman 08when might they improve?
  • Finally, what does this site’s attempt to trace its visitors reveal about who (or what) is reading the web?

His program is aptly called “Tracing You,” and it attempts to see the world from its visitors’ viewpoints. By cross referencing visitor IP addresses with available online data sources, the Ben Grossman 11system traces each visitor back through the network to their possible origin. The end of that trace is the closest available image that potentially shows the visitor’s physical environment. Sometimes what this image shows is eerily accurate. At other times it is wildly dislocated.

Whether disconcertingly accurate or absurdly Ben Grossman 03dislocated, the images produced by “Tracing You” provide viewers with a first-hand way to experience computer and network surveillance. Surveillance today allows governments and other agencies to maintain social control, recognize and monitor threats, and prevent and investigate criminal activity. With the advent of programs Ben Grossman 09such as the Total Information Awareness program, technologies such as high speed surveillance computers and biometrics software, and laws such as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, governments now possess an unprecedented ability to monitor the activities of citizens.

Ben Grossman 07Benjamin Grosser focuses on the cultural, social, and political effects of software. He constructs interactive experiences, machines, and systems that make the familiar unfamiliar, revealing the ways that software prescribes our behavior and thus, how it changes who we are. Grosser’s works have been exhibited at major international venues, exhibitions, and festivals, including Eyebeam in New York, The White Building in London, Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, FILE in São Paulo, Media Art Futures Festival in Murcia (Spain), Ben Grossman 10Athens Digital Arts Festival, Piksel in Bergen (Norway), WRO Media Biennale in Wroclaw (Poland), The Public Private at the New School in New York, Science Gallery in Dublin, Unlike in Poitiers (France), Contemporary Art Centre in Riga (Lativa), Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and a recent solo exhibition at Galerie Charlot in Paris. Ben Grossman 04Upcoming exhibitions include WHIT3CU.be (online), Space Sight at the Cultural Center of European Space Technologies in Slovenia, Interlude at Black Mountain College, Data Materialities at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles, and WordHack at BabyCastles Gallery in New York.

Ben Grossman 01The Huffington Post said of his Interactive Robotic Painting Machine that “Grosser may have unknowingly birthed the apocalypse.” The Chicago Tribune called him the “unrivaled king of ominous gibberish.” Slate referred to his work as “creative civil disobedience in the digital age.”

His recognitions include First Prize in VIDA 16, an international award that recognizes works investigating art and artificial life, a Net Art Grant and Commission from Rhizome, the Expanded Media Award for Network Culture from the Stuttgarter Filmwinter, an award and commission from Terminal, and an award from Creative Divergents.

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Chad Jensen seeks to extend legacy of Versailles through ‘Silhouette de la Garonne’ sculpture (05-04-16)

New FGCU 1In 2014, Chad Jensen designed and launched the Versailles Collection for Thomas Riley Studio. One of the pieces in that collection is Silhouette de la Garonne, which was inspired by the sculpture River Garonne by Antoine Coysevox (1640-1720), located at the Palace of Versailles. Jensen’s homage is intended not merely to draw inspiration from Versailles but to carry its legacy into the Chad Jensen 102future. Through artful examination, Jensen was able to suggest the details of the iconic sculpture, remaining true to form while allowing for interpretation. This perspective ultimately led to other pieces classical in content yet contemporary in form and presentation.

Jensen is one of six artists who are collaborating with Ghostbird Theatre in Quest for Permanence, Chad Jensen 104a new exhibition opening in the Art Gallery at Florida Gulf Coast University on May 19. In the tradition of Ponce de Leon’s quest for the mythical fountain of youth and cryogenics, Quest for Permanence seeks to reflect upon and document the complexities of time and space through a wide range of materials and approaches to making art. As the exhibition illustrates, performance, installation, design, photography and more are just a few of the varied methods that artists and humans use to preserve our individuality.

“The traces left behind from our lives suggest the Chad Jensen 101illusion of permanence as we struggle against our finite existence,” states FGCU in its syllabus describing the exhibition. “We assure ourselves that it is for others that we leave these traces, but the truth, of course, is that we want to live forever.”

Reminders of those who came before us come in many different forms and material, including frescos and other forms of art, architecture, and artifacts made from durable materials such as Chad Jensen 103stone and bronze. But as we move through the digital age, the action of documenting our lives has become ubiquitous. The works in Quest for Permanence show seven unique perspectives on the human condition using a wide range of materials and techniques. From the spiritual to the mundane, the familial to the mythic, these artists reveal our absurdities and our grand desires.

Chad Jensen 02An accomplished artist, designer, and maker, Chad Jensen presents an insightful curatorial perspective and cross-disciplinary philosophy that blurs the lines of distinction between craft, fine art, and design. His work has appeared in such publications as Interior Design, Art Basel Guide Miami, Modern, Robb Report, and China’s Case Da Abitare. In 2011 he was honored as one of the first North Americans to participate in the Shanghai Art Fair. Chad is a graduate of Detroit’s acclaimed College for Creative Studies, where he was mentored by renowned industrial designers and American modern masters in the studio arts, receiving a Chad Jensen 01formal education in wood, metal, hot glass, ceramics, and fibers. He is a mastery level woodworker and fine furniture maker.

Chad is the Creative Director of Thomas Riley Studio in Naples, Florida, where he serves on the Board of Directors for the United Arts Council of Collier County.

The exhibition opens at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 with an introduction of artists followed by a performance by Ghostbird Theatre and reception Chad Jensen 04that lasts until 7:00 p.m. The exhibition will remain on display in the main gallery through June 23. The gallery is in the Arts Complex on FGCU’s main campus at 10501 FGCU Blvd. S. Parking is available in Lot 7 for gallery visitors. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday.

 

 

  1. Mark Cranford says:

    on Lelia Mesdaghi’s use of Salvador Dali when academic WAR, woman’s artist revolution 1968 – 201 has never been explaned to our citizens. This is Dali’s pool
    Dali looked into a shallow sea side pool, he realized war and ignorance could stop creative consciousness. To detect the forces of darkness he devised his paranoia critical method, the spontaneous, irrational free association of delirious mental phenomena. I use paranoia critical to detect the forces of academic WAR here now in Lee County 2016 though the theorists for university radical-hood said they won in 2010. The Persistence of Memory was in part to Dali a rejection of the assumption that time is rigid or deterministic.That was to fight classical patriarchy. Dali was declared patriarchy in the 1980s and his Last Supper was removed for the National Gallery by the forces of academic WAR. There is no indication academically of the creative era we are in now. 2010 remains un-described by Lee County art direction. We are in a “timeless” period, an illusion to continue WAR on creative consciousness.Until our era of the “freeze of time” by academia with a revelation of their WAR there will be no resumption of perceptual art for our citizens.

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