Demetrius Oliver: Mare

January 18 – March 8, 2011
Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery
Reception: Thurs, Feb 3, 5–7pm

Collect Mare exhibition catalog, Contact Sheet 160

Also on view:

January 18 – March 3, 2011
Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery, Schine Student Center, Syracuse, NY

February 2011
Urban Video Project, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY

In Demetrius Oliver’s exhibition Mare, a circular image of a wave crashes against an unnamed shore; the image spins within itself and simultaneously orbits the gallery. As the image rotates, the lines of the wave begin to resemble the layered surface of a Jovian planet such as Jupiter. Visitors to the gallery become part of the work as the projection reflects off their bodies. Joining the sea with both corporal and heavenly phenomena, the installation recreates the awe felt when looking at the night sky and the increasing smallness of human existence within the ever-expanding universe.

The exhibition Penumbra, a series of three video installations by the artist, connects viewers to their place in the universe by playing with earthly and human forms against a backdrop of the cosmos. In Penumbra, explorations of light and scale, movement and the rhythm of the natural world suggest journeys both physical and metaphysical. By training our eyes to look simultaneously at ourselves and the heavens, the artist establishes a continuum of existence that emphasizes unity and ultimately peace. Finding the spectacular in the everyday, Oliver transforms seemingly ordinary material building blocks into images and installations that stretch the confines of human structures and bodies into the greater universe.

At the Everson Museum of Art Urban Video Project site, Oliver will install the work Perigee, which echoes the same circular image of a wave that appears in Mare. A perigee occurs when one orbiting body, in this case the moon, is closest to earth, which makes tidal waves generally stronger. The movement of the video describes the rotation of both planets and the alternate rising and falling of the sea. Its projection on the site, framed perfectly against the stars, transports the viewer into the celestial continuum where earth and its inhabitants are affected by larger bodies in space.

Penumbra, which will be installed in the Menschel Gallery at Schine Student Center, is a three-channel video in which Oliver’s head acts as a stellar body fading away as another body emerges to conceal it. The three videos play simultaneously, allowing Oliver to stretch time, the body, and space as the circle of his head becomes both a macrocosm of the universe and a microcosm of the body.

Demetrius Oliver (b.1975, Brooklyn, NY) lives and works in New York, NY. He received his B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI and his M.F.A from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA , and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME. From 2004-06 he was an artist resident at the Core Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX and from 2006-07 an artist-in-residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.

Oliver was a Light Work Artist-in-Residence in 2009. His work has been exhibited widely, with recent solo exhibitions at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA; Rhodes College, Memphis, TN; D’Amelio Terras, NY; the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, GA and The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. Most recently (2010) his work Jupiter was installed on the Highline Gallery in New York City.