Julie Oxenforth جولي اكسنفرث

A Moving Sea Between the Shores of Our Souls
20-30 April, 2010

Julie Oxenforth is a multi-disciplinary artist whose major subject is blurring boundaries: between artist and artwork; audience and environment; painting, sculpture and architecture; abstract and figurative; formal and informal; functional and dysfunctional. She has developed a background in painting and figurative sculpture into a blend of the two. Using mixed media installation art, she satisfies her interest in color, form, 3D spatial relationships, social space and the viewer’s response to the work.

Oxenforth has been living in Egypt, a land of dramatic contrasts, for 3 years. In Egypt she has gone deeper into the quest of reconciling opposites and finding balance. Meditation and Chi Gong have played an important role in her life and she is absorbed by the connection between these practices and installation art as both a heightened awareness of, and subsequent loss of, the Self.

“El Estehlak,” which in Arabic means “consumption,” is an art movement seeking to critique the increasingly profound role corporate consumption plays in daily life. In Oxenforth’s installation “A Moving Sea Between the Shores of Our Souls”, the abstract concept of love is scrawled on a shopping bag, which once contained a store-bought, very non-abstract, gift.

From a bustling Cairo street, the viewer en- ters the gallery through a thin black curtain and removes their shoes. In a small, car- peted room, a short video of a bag dangling in an empty kitchen loops. Sounds of clash- ing waves fill the room, mixing with the the complex (and loud) noises of the street. A breeze manipulates the bag, twisting it, swaying it, and rocking it back and forth. It is not just any bag—it’s a gift bag with a heart stenciled on the side, a caption reading “Love,” and an image of a pair of wedding bands. But, based on the bag’s movements, it is empty; missing whatever gift first required it.

“The image is a commercial depiction of a romantic love, a gift bag which may have contained a present but is now hanging empty in the kitchen of a deserted beach cafe,” writes the artist in a statement made available to viewers exiting the gallery. “The wind blows through the space reactivating the bag into a spiraling dance of seemingly random movement, the image redolent of love and loss, time spent and used.” Oxenforth intended to use the video to inspire “mimetic engulfment” (the term belongs to art writer Claire Bishop) for “fragmenting the ego…creating a vehicle for the viewer to lose the self.”