Between February 7 – August 12, the Museum of Art and Design presents Swept Away: Dust, Ashes, and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design. The exhibition investigation into unusual mediums features an international group of artists whose major materials are dust, ashes, dirt, and sand. It will highlight works that deal with issues such as the ephemeral nature of art and life, the quality and content of memory, issues of loss and disintegration, and the detritus of human existence.
Several artists invited to participate in Swept Away have focused on the relationship between the ephemeral and our understanding of language. Like sand constantly being blown into different configurations in the desert, living languages are never static, but rather are in a state of perennial evolution. The familiar phrase "written in the sands of time" is especially pertinent to the work of Sasha Meret and Cui Fei.
Romanian-American artist Sasha Meret works with a wide variety of materials, ranging from digital prints and video to plastic cutlery, wood, and iron. His works develop organically from his experiments with materials and sometimes involve performance. Sand Calligraphy, a video included in Swept Away, continues the artist's exploration of writing, language, and the gestural quality of calligraphy. it offers a bird's-eye view of a sand field that constantly changes as wind blows across it. The sand moves and collects in specific patterns until a calligraphic rendering rendering of the first verse of Quran emerges, only to be swallowed up again by the shifting sands. The work is an elegant metaphor for the ways in which language reveal and conceal culture.
"My approach to the creative process is a continuous search for new challenges. I usually have several projects lined up, and this allows me to consider them with a degree of detachment until I sense a clarity about the direction I have to follow. I work on an idea very focused as if it is the ultimate thing to do. One solution leads to another, which, in turn, leads to new solutions and new ideas. Such was the case when a set of stencils used for a series of works on paper were incorporated into a new series of works where sand was used for texture. The stencil became a three-dimensional piece that led to a a new set of works that celebrated ancient writing and calligraphies. While working with sand I became fascinated with the almost liquid flowing of particles. I grabbed the video camera and started filming. The editing and syncing with music was another exciting challenge. In my work I like the novelty of a new material or media. I like to explore its possibilities and often this dialog takes me in a new direction. I have only one rule - a harmonious result that intrigues, challenges and captivates. I welcome the happy accident, the accomplished error that helps me to think out-of-the box and leads me often to the most innovative formulas. If you want to make the gods laugh tell them you have a plan.(old Pre-Columbian saying)" (Sasha Meret, Artistic Statement)
“While dust, ashes, and dirt are not usually in the repertoire of materials used by visual artists, they have a notable history of use in the arts. [...] Cui Fei (sand), Sasha Meret (sand), and Antonio Riello (Ash), among others, investigate the role of language plays in the dialogue between permanence and impermanence in our consciousness.” (David Revere McFadden, Chief Curator, Museum of Art and Design)