Contemporary Art Galleries, University of Connecticut • Storrs, CT • contemporaryartgalleries.uconn.edu • Through November 21, 2014

By: Susan Rand Brown

The Contemporary Art Galleries at the University of Connecticut and Louise Menzies, a New Zealander who has gained significant attention at home and beyond by exploring boundaries of artistic media and commonly held beliefs—her philosophy is to question everything, accept nothing without investigative scrutiny—have found in each other the perfect match of attitude and latitude.

Nurtured by contemporary theory, feminism and the spirit of collaboration across eras and genres, the attitude is built into the DNA of 33-year-old Menzies, while latitude is essential to the interdisciplinary mission of the Galleries, nestled into the Fine Arts Building where resources include a digital art laboratory, a printmaking studio with modern and vintage presses and the newly established Counterproof Press, which will assist in producing her artist book.

Menzies Peloha2009

Louise Menzies, Peloha, 2009, 16mm film still.

The heart of Menzies’ investigative process is focused within the Alternative Press Collection at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, home to a treasure-trove of printed materials including an archive documenting cultural and political activist movements of the 1960s and 1970s—a reflection of American history paralleling the University of Connecticut’s own campus history.

Using techniques of erasure and fragmentation to allude to the ultimately unknowable past, the Dodd collection provides the basis for Menzies’ investigations into history, and her point of departure for artwork, such as handmade paper, where she literally embeds the history of alternative media within its fibers. She also will show her Chaplinesque film of the newspaper-printing process, its images of uniform ribbons of archaic machinery suggesting comparisons to the manufacture and dissemination of information in our digital age.

The Contemporary Art Galleries, an under-the-radar atelier directed by curator Barry A. Rosenberg and known for openness to experimentation, rightfully boasts having exhibited Marina Abramovic, Janine Antoni, Alfredo Jaar, Sally Smart and many other top-tier artists. This illustrious history, which now includes Louise Menzies, an important newcomer whose creative process embodies the investigative, collaborative spirit of post-modernism, makes it well worth the trip to Storrs.

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