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Review: Miami Art Museum Ventures into "The Wilderness"

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Anchoring "The Wilderness," Miami Art Museum's provocative group exhibit, is McCollum's sprawling installation, The Event: Petrified Lightning From Central Florida (With Supplemental Didactics) (1998), which takes over the center gallery. To create his jaw-dropping opus, the New York-based artist teamed up with geologists and electrical engineers from the University of Florida's International Center for Lightning Research and Testing during several weeks in the summer of 1997.

At the facility -- called Camp Blanding, located near the small town of Starke, considered the lightning capital of the world -- McCollum and his collaborators used small rockets to trigger lightning strikes. Their missiles had copper wires attached, directing the lightning bolts to containers filled with sand. When lightning zapped the wires, the jolt vaporized the sand, creating a small glass object called a fulgurite.

McCollum then had a souvenir company make 10,000 replicas of a single

fulgurite. They are arranged in a mammoth display not far from one of

the red rockets the artist used to draw the lightning strikes. The

mass-produced fulgurites are identical: beige, cigar-size, and crooked.

In a nearby space, New Times Mastermind Award-winner Christy Gast's

Batty Cave (2010) is a room-engulfing three-channel video installation

that conjures the tale of two Western crackpots who build an ark in a

desert cave to escape the apocalypse.

While visiting Utah, Gast discovered a ramshackle vessel that, according

to local legend, was built during the '50s by hobos fearing that the

construction of a dam on the Colorado River would disturb the natural

order and provoke a flood of biblical proportions.

Gast's film captures the decrepit remnants of the would-be ark, the

rusted hulks of abandoned cars found in the cave, and the artist's hands

assembling found artifacts such as glass shards, rusted metal, and

other objects in ritualistic patterns evocative of pictographs. As one

watches the artist's rhythmically shuffling hands creating strange

totemic story lines, Gast's altered voice pierces the room in a haunting

echo, heightening the mysterious nature of the projection.

Equally uncanny is Darren Almond's creepy video installation, Arctic

Pull (2003), which features the solitary figure of a man pulling a sled

in the pitch darkness of a driving Siberian blizzard.

Read the full review here.

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