Burlington City Arts is thrilled to host the exhibition/residency (Not) in My Backyard, or (N)IMBY, July 31st 2010 – August 28th 2010 featuring Swiss-national artists Graziella Weber-Grassi and Monalice Haener with guests POL 5, the Swiss-based artist collective. On the Firehouse Center’s 4th Floor dedicated artist-in-residence studio, Haener and Weber-Grassi have created a series of interactive installations and active work-spaces. Changing each day, the exhibition is a work in progress and invites the public to visit and participate within the series of room/corridors created by sheeting plastic, insulation foam, bright, inorganic materials and specialized lighting. Maps and paintings introduce the theme of borders and fluidity, and open writing spaces invite visitors to comment on their preferences of what they allow in private space vs. what is designated to the public domain, highlighting such issues as the billboard ban in Vermont and the controversy over introducing turbines into the rural landscape. In addition to the (N)IMBY installation by Haener and Weber-Grassi, the exhibit also includes retrospective objects, slide projections, and images on digital monitors describing past collaborative projects completed by the artists and the POL 5 team in locations such as Iran, Africa, and Mexico. As a continuation of the these global public intervention/site specific installations, the current (N)IMBY exhibit works to engage particular communities to reveal cross-cultural connections.
Highlighted also is the large-scale participatory collaborative project, Suddenly Visible, executed as part of the Burlington International Waterfront Festival in summer of 2009. As an outdoor installation referencing the global financial crisis, the installation took the form of a consistent visual vocabulary of pink insulation foam to “wrap” trees, buildings, and city infrastructure in its viral aesthetic, and pulled from participants from all over the world to represent global interconnectedness. The project still exists in digital form at www.suddenlyvisible.com, and provides list of VT-based participating artists, as well as many other artist contributors from around the world.
(N)IMBY is a tool to speak to the invasiveness of public life into private life in an increasingly global, border-fluid world. The concept asks such questions as: what would you accept and what would you not accept in your own back yard, in you’re private space, and what would you reject? Is there a public good vs. private good, and is there a hierarchy of importance? What is a compromise of your space, are you willing to sacrafice your space for the “public good”?
These questions come into tangible form when we consider the billboard ban law in and the continued controversy over energy generating turbines and windmills in the Vermont Landscape. Recognizing this issue of a crisis of choice, the discussion continues with the outlawing the Burka in France, the Islamic Minaret architecture in Switzerland; and the current immigration issue in Arizona. Confronting delicate moral issues surrounding the vernacular of place and giving way to a more homogenized globalilzed visual culture, (N)IMBY asks every visitor and participant in the exhibit to consider these issues thoughtfully.