June 17 – July 17, 2011
District of Columbia Arts Center, Washington, DC
Something Other Than the Present was the second exhibition of work by members of Sparkplug 3, the third incarnation of DC Arts Center’s artist collective program and the final exhibition I curated with Sparkplug. The exhibition emphasized the desire for other times, places, and states of being as expressed throughout the artist’s work.
Participating Artists: Chajana denHarder, Todd Gardner, Joe Hale, Chandi Kelley, Matt Smith, and Dafna Steinberg
As I started viewing the work that would eventually make up this exhibition, I began thinking about nostalgia, but found that the temporal focus of that word did not quite capture the feeling evoked by the work. Stumbling upon the concept of saudade, its broad open-endedness piqued my interest. Connoting a broader field of longing than nostalgia, saudade specifically suggests a longing that cannot be fulfilled, not least because the longed for object, place, or state of being simply does not exist or cannot be achieved. While nostalgia most often refers to a longing for a specific bygone era, the wistfulness of saudade can mean a longing for past or future, place or person, a desire for an undefined (and unattainable) state of being.