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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY'S SCHOOL OF ART PRESENTS FLOATING LAB COLLECTIVE'S "EXPEDITIONS IN USONIA"

December 3, 2010
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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S

SCHOOL OF ART

ANNOUNCES

FLOATING LAB COLLECTIVE

“EXPEDITIONS IN USONIA”

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011 – Friday, Feb. 18, 2011

Fine Art Gallery, Art & Design Building, Mason’s Fairfax Campus

An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 26 from 6-8 p.m.

 

FAIRFAX, Va., Dec. 1, 2010 – This spring, George Mason University’s School of Art presents an exhibition titled “Expeditions in Usonia” by the Floating Lab Collective (FLC), a group of artists from the D.C. metropolitan area, including faculty and students from Mason. The exhibition features work from the group’s four-year project, “43.5 Actions in Usonia,” and will be on display from Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011 through Friday, Feb. 18, 2011 in the Fine Art Gallery in the Art & Design Building on Mason’s Fairfax Campus. An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. This exhibition is free and open to the public.

Founded in 2007, FLC has been working nationally and internationally in the public sphere, exploring issues of representation, participation, inclusion, empowerment and social change. The group emphasizes community engagement through sculpture, performance, new media, sound, participatory art and public intervention. Responding to social issues, the FLC uses mobiles, sculptures and alternative forms of display and engagement to articulate a social discourse about community, consumption, and the creation and conceptualization of art and culture to suggest an alternative role for art institutions in communities. The group has produced projects primarily in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland, but has also brought its work to other cities throughout the United States.

“43.5 Actions in Usonia” gets its name from two sources – 43.5 comes from the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and “Usonia” was coined by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who used the term to describe his utopian vision for the American landscape. The exhibition will feature several works from the project such as “Scream at the Economy,” a participatory piece in which people were invited to call a number and leave a recording of themselves screaming at the economy, which was subsequently used to create a musical composition by various international composers that was made available for free download; “The American Landscape of Dreams” in which Hispanic day laborers from the Baltimore area constructed miniature houses to represent their own aspirations and engage with the community, which were then displayed in public locations around Baltimore; and “Mapping the Route of the Ordinary,” a commentary on the daily displacement of individuals living in the constantly mobile Northern Virginia community, in which a video camera was suspended by balloons attached to a person’s jacket in order to film a visual geographical description of a person’s journey.

“We are using Frank Lloyd Wright’s term ‘Usonia’ to re-map and re-define the American landscape based on ideas of alienation, inclusion, migration and assimilation as it relates to the changing culture of the American Dream,” said FLC co-founder Edgar Endress, an assistant professor in Mason’s School of Art. “As a result, the geographical Usonian Landscape becomes the laboratory to question the public’s definition of community, social participation and utopia.”

The exhibition will also feature work made with the Modular Environmental Transporter, a device modeled after the Modular Equipment Transporter used to explore the lunar surface during the Apollo 14 mission. The NASA M.E.T. was equipped with devices for observing the astronauts’ operations and gathering data from an alien landscape while the FLC M.E.T. is a device equipped with instruments for engaging the community. The M.E.T. invites individuals on the street to interact with the object and collective to initiate actions of art.

For more information on the Floating Lab Collective, please contact Sue Wrbican at swrbican@gmu.edu or (703) 993-8570, or visit the Floating Lab Collective’s website at http://floatinglabcollective.org/.

 

About the Galleries

The Galleries are located on Mason’s Fairfax campus. The Johnson Center Gallery is located on the main level of the George W. Johnson Center in the heart of the campus. The Fine Art Gallery is located on the ground floor of the Art and Design Building. The Mason Hall Gallery is on the ground floor of Mason Hall on Mason Pond Drive. Galleries are open Mon. through Thurs., from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Fridays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., unless otherwise noted, and by appointment. The Concert Hall Gallery is open Tuesday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Gallery Program is a division of Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, home to the Center for the Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies, and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater, and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College is home to the Schools of Music, Dance and Art, the Department of Theater, as well as the Computer Game Design, Arts Management and Film and Video Studies programs.

 

About George Mason University

Named the #1 national university to watch in the 2009 rankings of U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country.  Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university.