THE FORTUNETELLERS, Bruce High Quality Foundation University

Ellie Ga, The Fortunetellers
Thursday December 10, 2009, 8 p.m.     
At BHQFU: 225 West Broadway
curated by Beatrice Gross

The Bruce High Quality Foundation University is pleased to announce its third Edifying evening, featuring Ellie Ga's The Fortunetellers (2008-2009). In the lineage of John Cage's Lecture on Nothing (1950), or Robert Morris’s 1964 performance 21.3 where the artist lip-synched a film of art historian Erwin Panofsky reading his Studies On Iconology (1939), Edifying, a series of performative lectures curated by Beatrice Gross, presents a selection of contemporary performative events concerned with the dramatization of knowledge and its dissemination.

The Fortunetellers, an autobiographical, narrative lecture, is based on a six-month residency the American artist Ellie Ga spent on the Tara, a research sailboat frozen into the ice, purposely drifting near the North Pole to gather scientific data. Combining her memories with a vast array of documents she created and archived along the way (photographs, videos, annotated sketches, maps, travel log...), Ga superimposes live storytelling, recorded sound, still and moving images, to conjure up the terms and rituals of daily life in the Arctic night. In a fascinating mise-en-abyme of narrations and temporalities, Ga's performance-conference incorporates fragments of one of the rare entertainment forms the artist and the other nine crew members of the expedition managed to create for themselves in their remote, confined habitat: a lecture series. The Fortunetellers hence comprises tales about the history of the yoyo, the evolution of oceanic currents and their impact on planktonic life, as well as a study of contemporary and ancient forms of fortune telling, used by the artist as a metaphor for the past and future of the Arctic landscape:

"On the night of November 5, when the ice began to move, the maps I had collected became a part of the past for all of us. More cracks in the ice started to appear, some were thin and jagged and others were wide enough to reveal open water. I would walk around following the path of these cracks and I thought about the fortune tellers who sit behind shop windows in New York offering, for five dollars, to read the lines on the palm of your hand so that you may know your the future. Here too we could follow the lines on the ice and see our future take shape as well. I wanted to make a photo project that expressed this idea and I started to put our head lamps into the frozen leads. I probably got the idea to do this because I had been working as Hervé’s assistant in the snow pits. This job entailed making holes in the snow to analyze its different layers. Once the polar night set in we would place our head lamps into the snow pits in order to see what we were doing. A portion of the ice seemed to glow from below.” (Ellie Ga, Reports from a Taranaut, abstract).

Back to The Fortunetellers, performance

Back to Bibliography