ArtBlitzLA’s Peter Maloy visited Israeli artist Miri Chais in her Los Angeles studio and had the opportunity to discuss her upcoming show at USC Fisher Museum of Art, Post Internet Art and the art world today. Housed in a warehouse-looking complex, Chais opened her doors to ArtBlitzLA and show ed us her extensive studio practice and pieces for her upcoming show which opens this September 17th.
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming show?
RE:Mind is my first solo exhibition in the US since moving here from Israel 2 years ago. This exhibition at The USC Fisher Museum of Art will open on Wednesday September 17 and is on display until November 15th. It is a site specific installation that will encompass sculptures, videos, digital prints and sound. It is inspired by perceptions of augmented and virtual realities vs. physicality and the human existence. I have been dealing for a long time with the endless future possibilities for expanding and altering the use of the human brain, and it became the conceptual core of this specific show.
How is this body of work different than your old work, how was the transition?
Until moving to Los Angeles, my sculptural work was more flat and two dimensional. It related to the flatness of the computer and the cell phone screens. I was interested in the way they mediate between the consumer in the real world, to the virtual and cyber world. My work still deals with these issues, but in the past two years it has became more three dimensional, the sculptures have more volume and they also became much bigger.Video and imagery also became a more important aspect of my work and it is a part of the USC Fisher Museum show.
What were the challenges you had moving your art practice to LA from Israel?
The first challenge coming to the US as an Israeli artist was to establish a studio and a network of professional contacts. I wanted to feel the local pulse and see how my work will be perceived here. Although my work had been exhibited internationally before moving to LA, it still wasn’t known here and I had to work hard get it out there. I initiated dialogues with local art professionals who were very welcoming, and I am fortunate that in the course of the past two years, my work has participated in almost 20 group exhibitions, in public venues such as LAMAG , Ben Maltz Gallery in Otis, LAAA , Torrance Art Museum, San Diego Mesa College Art Gallery and more.
How do you see yourself fitting into the LA art world?
My work had always dealt with light and space, but not in the abstract way that is typical to the aesthetics of Los Angeles. The use of L.E.D and plexiglass for me relates to the common materials that screens are made of, had been central in my work for almost a decade. It was interesting to see the way light and space were and still are being approached to in southern California, and to try and find a connection between that and my practice. Other then that, the issues addressed in my work were never specifically local, and have always been global and existential related; such as how technology and science, virtual and augmented realities, are relevant and influential in all of our everyday lives,
What’s the most important thing you want people to know about your work?
I believe in art that originates from a very private place, and finds it’s way through the public sphere into other people’s hearts and minds. As a mother to a girl and a boy, thinking about the world out there, a very different world from the one I grew up in, there is no escape from raising questions and concerns about the way the world is rapidly changing and what the future will hold. These topics are rooted in my art and hopefully they will resonate with the people who experience it.
You use a lot of found video. How did that come about?
Since we live in an era with a constant flux of imagery, and as there are so many great materials out there, it seems obvious that ready-made imagery will enter my work, especially while dealing with the way technology and cyberspace are interwoven in our lives. Living in LA and being inspired by the “stardom” of Hollywood I found myself interested in the gap between how this glamour is perceived from the outside, as imagined by TV viewers in other parts of the world, in comparison to the local experience. The distance between the imaged and the real was always fascinating to me, and in the last videos it entered by the selection of online footage found on Youtube and databases – people uploading their “perfect” vacation, the “most romantic kissing scenes”, childhood memories”. and so on. As I juxtaposed these perfect videos with MRI scans and medical footage, and brought the “risky” reality and personal fears as a constant presence bubbling underneath the glossy surface.
Do you consider your work post internet art?
Artie Vierkant’s “The Image Object Post-Internet” really made sense to me, and contextualized some of the concerns I have been dealing with in my work for several years. Using the internet not as a new phenomena but as a daily tool that affects all of us in many ways and in different layers. The flatness of the screens, the changing perceptions of imagery, and emptying of meanings and charging of new ones, all typical to post-internet era and art making, is inherent in my art.
Where else can we see your work?
At the moment, and after participating in many group exhibitions, I am focused on the exhibition at the USC Fisher Museum, and it will be on view for two months this fall. This show is an opportunity to present a scope of new works from the past two years.