Art will move mountains


The smell of raw lumber greets pedestrians strolling down Cornell Avenue outside the Hyde Park Art Center. Inside the building’s open doorways, two 16-foot-tall wooden skeletal mountains sit on a divided stage, linked to one another by ropes attached to pulleys. The piece, ‘Olympus Manger,’ Scene II, is “an investigation of scale, landscape, the built environment, and its relationship to the body,” according to artist Kelly Kaczynski’s exhibit notes. The piece allows viewers to remain a “spectator,” or assume an “actor” role by climbing on stage and partaking in a tug-of-war with the ropes dangling off the towers. Pulling the ropes results in a slow joining, and eventual collapse, of the towers.

Kaczynski calculated that the two stages’ collision should last the duration of the exhibition’s 13-week run, according to notes by Allison Peters, director of the art center's exhibits, thereby mimicking the slow pace of natural phenomena like plate tectonics. But just as earthquakes can suddenly rattle or volcanoes can erupt, Olympus Manger is prone to bursts of activity, based on the number of visitors to the gallery who choose to participate. Eventually the two stages will be fused together and the structural debris from the two mountains will transform into a single mass.

The exhibit runs through July 6.


Photo: Kelly Kaczynski, 'Olympus Manger,' Scene II, 2008, wood, dry wall, rope and glue.

Photo courtesy the Hyde Park Art Center.

June 25, 2008