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The Mass Media

Experience ‘RPM: Room to Breathe’ at the University Hall Gallery

Colin Tsuboi
A student views “RPM: Room to Breathe” located in the University Hall Gallery on the first floor. Photo by Colin Tsuboi / Mass Media Staff.

With the beginning of the new semester comes a new exhibition at the University Hall Art Gallery. According to their website, the gallery was founded in 2016 and has featured many artists since. This exhibition, called “RPM: Room to Breathe,” was the work of curators, Director of The University Hall Gallery Samuel Toabe, and Associate Professor of Art and Art History Wenhua Shi.

Revolutions Per Minute is an art festival dedicated to several different forms of art, according to the University Hall Gallery website (1). They celebrate new and unique artists who focus on experimental art. According to the festival’s website, “the exhibition explores the possibility of the exhibition space to act as a site or a sanctuary for energizing, renewing, and meditating.”

According to Toabe, Shi has been working on this exhibition for several years and proposed a video installation to complement the moving image festival. “The exhibition is about the variety of expressions that moving image and sound artists are capable of, intersecting with the rich history of the RPM Festival,” he says. “There are examples of both digital and stop animation, documentary style video essays and abstract works, all of which portray different perspectives and approaches to direction, editing, and cinematography.”

From 47 submissions, Toabe and Shi selected seven works to feature in their exhibit. “[We] were looking for quality, variety, and inventiveness,” Toabe says. “We also wanted to select works that otherwise do not fit within the format of a film screening like the rest of the festival, providing an alternative venue to artists whose work is installation-based, short form or is meant to be seen on a screen rather than projected.”

Artists featured include Brit Bunkley, Heather Cassano, Abigail Hendrix, Jodie Mack, Kym McDaniel, Tess Martin and Vito A. Rowlands. According to the RPM festival website, Brit Bunkley is a videographer based in New Zealand (2). She focuses on “large-scale outdoor sculpture and installations as well as the creation of ‘impossible’ moving and still images and architecture designed using 3D modeling, video editing, and image editing programs.” Bunkley’s piece is called “Dear Hart–How they dream. How we dream.”

Cassano’s piece is called “Madness” and features a three-channel video with old cemeteries from mental institutions in autumn and archival video. According to the RPM festival website, “the archival video is taken from a series of films produced in the early 1950s, featuring Dr. Heinz Lehmann describing eight forms of ‘mental symptoms’ as they appear in the mentally ill,” (2). Cassano specializes in documentary film, focusing on poetic documentary.

Hendrix’s piece, “Nimueh Triptych,” features a three-channel video, “explor[ing] the mythologizing of the body after violence and death,” according to the RPM Festival website (2). Hendrix is a Boston-based writer, photographer and filmmaker.

“M*U*S*H*” by Mack is described as “vital grief finds interplanetary putrescence,” according to the RPM Festival website (2). Mack is an animator focusing on the relationship between decoration and utility. 

McDaniels’ “Invisible World” focuses on the world of invisible disabilities. As someone with an invisible disability herself, she provides a unique perspective on the topic. McDaniels is a “queer, invisibly disabled, experimental filmmaker, choreographer, and performer” and she “uses image collages, text, gesture, and the body to explore chronic illness, queerness/disability, and structural dissociation,” according to the RPM website (2).

Martin’s piece, “Still Life with Woman, Tea and Letter,” is a stop-motion animation focusing on the border between the past and the present, focusing on a woman caught in the middle. Daniels is a filmmaker and animator based in The Netherlands. She uses hand-made animation techniques to create her work.

“Immaculate Generations no. 1” by Rowlands is an animated film focusing on the saying, “the eyes are the windows of the soul.” Rowlands is based in Belgium, but is currently an ​​assistant professor of experimental film and media at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

There will be a reception for this exhibition Sept. 29 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the University Hall Gallery on the first floor of University Hall, with food and drinks provided. The gallery is open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

  1. https://www.umb.edu/liberal-arts/the-arts-at-umass-boston/university-gallery/
  2. http://revolutionsperminutefest.org/#room
About the Contributors
Rena Weafer, Editor-in-Chief
Colin Tsuboi, Photographer