Friday, June 21, 2024

Spaced Out: Inside Sri Prabha’s Entangled Exhibition at Boca Museum

Words fail when attempting to encapsulate the experience of walking through Sri Prabha’s new site-specific installation of the Boca Raton Museum of Art. But I’ll give it a shot, fumbling for diction that derives less from the art world than from the realms of astrophysics and quantum entanglement. In short, walking through Prabha’s “Resonator – Reanimator” is like being dropped, like the pin in Google Earth coordinates, smack-dab in the middle of the Big Bang, or at least the popular conception of the theory: a swirling explosion of nothing into something.

This is at least one of the intentions of Prabha’s multimedia approach—to bring us closer to a sort of connected, universal consciousness, where prehistory and the future collapse into an eternal now. The Indian-born, Hollywood-based artist achieves these aims with paint, with still cameras, with video, with computers, with site-specific sculptures that beckon and, frankly, overwhelm. But this muchness does not descend into a sort of confusing anarchy, as it might in the hands of a less seasoned artist. It’s all of a piece with Prabha’s larger vision of collective unity that’s as vast as the cosmos.

To that end, connections—some direct, others subtle—exist between seemingly disparate works, linked together across the gallery space like so much quanta. The diptych painting “Dueling Entities” offers a tumultuous collision of shapes and colors more vivid and space-y than anything that’s come out of the James Webb Telescope. On its surface, projecting outward, is a dead timepiece, suggesting the illusory nature of timekeeping in the grandest sense of creation.

This concept is reinforced in the next room, where Prabha has installed dioramas of scenes inside repurposed clock frames, where miniature snakes and space shuttles wriggle and jitter atop stuck second hands: Time has stopped, but life goes on. These pieces are positioned above an array of ephemera—terraria, raw gems and other archaeological finds, vinyl records splattered with paint—that catapult Prabha’s ideas out of the ephemeral and into the tactile.

Imagery of dinosaurs and astronauts recurs throughout “Resonator – Reanimator,” even colliding in a staged photograph like “Dino-Naut” and the entrancing video animation “Cosmic Occupancy,” in which a space traveler drifts in an amniotic bath. In the sculpture “Beacon,” toy dinosaurs, more mini vinyl records, gemstones and an antenna jut from its sedimentary foundation, which rests below a glowing neon coil: Again, it’s the unburied past and the promise of the future fusing together.

But the central attraction, at least in its sheer size, is the site-specific “Spaceresearchcentre,” with extrapolates on Prabha’s themes on a grand scale. Visitors walk among massive painted slabs positioned every which way, like so much cosmic debris captured in suspended animation. Video of churning, roiling abstractions project on video screens around it, bathing the installation in various shades of color and intermingling with the shadows cast by us, the museumgoers, as we traverse the ether.

There’s even an interactive, cocoon-like space, shaped like a space shuttle, that invites viewers to stand inside it, where Prabha fixtures, from gems to twitchy animations to circuit boards, are embedded in its very structure. (It’s conceived as a space for meditation, which at last night’s well-attended VIP opening of the exhibition, was next to impossible.)

Exit this chrysalis, look up at a certain point, and you may notice brain scans positioned high up, almost on the ceiling. But you’re just as likely to miss them, as you are many of the details in the controlled chaos of Prabha’s gonzo vision. It’s true for much great art, but especially for “Resonator – Reanimator”: The more you look, the more you see. I, for one, can’t wait to come back for another swim in the primordial soup.

“Sri Prabha: “Resonator – Reanimator” runs through Oct. 22 at Boca Raton Museum of Art, along with three other incredible exhibitions: “Sari Dienes: Incidental Nature,” “Matthew Schreiber: Orders of Light” and “Benn Mitchell Photographs.” Admission is $12-$16. Call 561/392-2500 or visit bocamuseum.org.


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John Thomason
John Thomason
As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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