The white picket fence may be part of the American suburban dream, but what is a fence’s real purpose? Sophomore Lynn Gilge asks if a fence should keep us in or block us out in her video selected for a screening at the Minneapolis Walker Art Center’s new exhibit, Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes.Getting a video into this exhibit was not part of the plan for Gilge. A studio art and English major, Gilge’s focus is painting. An interest in advertising as a possible career led Gilge to Julie Lindemann and John Shimon’s digital processes classes.
Gilge submitted the video as an assignment for the class. The Walker posted a YouTube video, asking for video submissions under five minutes detailing suburban life.
Gilge’s video, called “Continuous Fence,” is nearly four minutes of close-ups on rolling fences, shot from the perspective of someone walking by. Each fence segment is tightly edited to come immediately after the previous fence, giving the video a sense of endlessness. A clip of an Imogen Heap song put through a filter and repeated throughout adds to the sense of monotony.
Gilge said this sense of repetition is part of the point of the piece. She said, “I started out my project with just stills of fences, [but] in the video I could really zoom up on the fence and it was obviously the focal point. It’s like a motion. I’m walking along the fence and it keeps going and going and going.”
Gilge said video was the most workable medium for the ideas she wanted to convey. “I wanted it to go on forever because just looking at a photograph you don’t get that sense of ‘when is it going to end?'”
The Walker Art Museum is a cultural force in the Twin Cities. Its new, doubled-in-size space opened in 2005.
Adjacent to the Walker is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which includes the famous Twin City symbol, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s “Spoonbridge and Cherry.”
One of the purposes of the Walker’s exhibit, according to its Web site, is to challenge “preconceived ideas and expectations about suburbia (either pro or con).” The exhibit includes 12 chosen videos as well as photography, painting, and sculpture.
Gilge recently visited the exhibit and her piece. The museum constructed its own version of the suburban basement, complete with beanbag chairs and a remote control, to house the winning selections.
Other videos from the class are currently on YouTube. Junior Yifan Zhu’s video “Alice [Wonderland] [in Chains]” includes a girl in a kimono and a man in a bunny suit and poses questions about identity and community in the suburban Midwest.
Sophomore Wilmer Chan’s “Consonance/Dissonance” deals with the interplay between rural, suburban, and urban Wisconsin.
Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes runs Feb. 16 to Aug. 17 in The Walker’s Target Gallery. The art center is located at 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55403.
The exhibit travels to the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburg Oct. 4 to Jan. 18, 2009.
To view Lynn Gilge’s video “Continuous Fences” or other videos from the class, go to walkerworldsaway (one word) on YouTube.com.