Biggers' Cheshire (2008)
The latest additions to the Portland Art Museum's contemporary collection are
two of Sanford
' "Cheshire" works; a video piece and a newly installed
wall/floor sculpture with a LED light show. Both purchases were made possible
through fund's provided by the Contemporary
. They will both be on display through August 30th as part of
show in the ongoing Miller-Meigs series
The Cheshire sculpture acts both as as a sign and light show performance, with
its teeth approximating the Cheshire cat's winking but toothy smile. Like most
of Biggers' more recent work its tough to categorize because it is somewhat
pop, a performance prop, a literary reference and an ostensible rebus... not
unlike Biggers' symbolic trees or the Cheshire Cat's smile in the Alice in Wonderland
story. Biggers is interested in accumulating varied sources and syncretizing
them so that the sampled elements are all coexist in a recognizable stew of
elements relevant in the past and present as a continuum for the future. I particularly
like how Cheshire's lights seem blink in relation to the music being played
in the room (Biggers own rendition of Strange
, a poem then song written to condemn racial violence, especially lynchings).
Still from Cheshire (2007) video
The Cheshire video is one of Biggers' "Tree Series", depicting several
men climbing trees to the soundtrack of Strange Fruit. It is currently
on display with and relates to the large scale sculpture Blossom
tree growing through a piano and the Cheshire mouth sculpture. Both of the tree
works explore the lives of men as expressed through how they move through systematic
I'm a big fan of tree's in art (Goya
Ruebens, Van Ruisdael, Freidrich, Cezanne, Klee and Mondian
all being important tree artists) and Biggers' Cheshire video is an interesting
addition to PAM's growing thread of interesting tree pieces in the collection.
In addition to a Gauguin
Derain, Kenneth Snellson's Forest Devil and forest of photographs there are
a lot of noteworthy trees in PAM's collection.
There's Theo Van Doesberg's Tree (1916) acquired from the artist's widow by
Jan de Graaff
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's Fir Trees (C. 1925) gifted to PAM by the legendary Curt
Kevin Appel's House: North View Through Court (1999) Jubitz Center for Modern
and Contemporary Art, 4th Floor
Tom Cramer's Redwood Forest (1999)
The list goes on and on with works by other local artists like Michael Brophy",
David Rosenak and numerous sculptures carved from tees etc.
What I can say is that trees in art almost always have a romantic quality to them.