During this strange time of COVID-19, we have all been drawn to reflect on our spheres of personal space and boundaries with the community beyond. “InterSpace,” a temporary art installation on the Montpelier front porch of artist/architects Alisa Dworsky and Danny Sagan, considers that dynamic.
Stretched fabric tetrahedral — triangular-faced forms with all edges, faces and vertices equal — spread out across the Victorian porch. With dusk, at 6 p.m. each evening for four days, video taken inside the home illuminates them with glimpses of food shelves, drawers and other details of daily life.
“InterSpace” bridges the realms of public and private space. It is designed to be experienced with physical distancing — to be seen from the sidewalk, perspective changing as one moves along it.
Dworsky and Sagan’s installation bridges greater distance too, offering opportunity to connect to artists around the world who have also created installations in publicly visible but private zones — in balconies, windows, yards from Russia to Australia to Tajikistan. These artworks by more than 50 artists in 23 cities in 13 countries are showcased in the online-offline 7th International Public Art Festival Art Prospect exhibition “Treasure Hunt.”
“InterSpace” is Dworsky and Sagan’s first installation in this annual festival, an event rooted in St. Petersburg, Russia, and a project of CEC ArtsLink. CEC ArtsLink, founded in 1962, promotes international communication through innovative arts projects.
The Art Prospect Festival, launched in 2012, alters familiar urban landscapes with works of contemporary art. Several neighborhoods in St. Petersburg have been at the heart of this four-day annual event. It has been hosted in Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan as well.
This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival is presented in a new format. In-person works, such as “InterSpace,” can be experienced at their sites and on the Art Prospect website. Video, animation, sound art and other augmented reality works presented at the Ivan Gaza Palace of Culture in St. Petersburg are accessible to download through the festival app.
Dworsky and Sagan have been familiar with the festival through the Main Street Museum in White River Junction and friendship with Susan Katz, CEC ArtsLink program director and festival director and co-founder. Katz who lives in St. Petersburg has long ties to South Royalton.
“Art Prospect has always been an international festival, but this is the first time that we are presenting it online and offline,” said Katz in an email from St. Petersburg.
“The 7th Art Prospect Festival was initially planned for May 2020 in St. Petersburg with artists from Russia, United States, Switzerland, Norway and Finland. Given that the Russian border is still closed and the need for social distancing, we decided to conduct the festival in a new format that would allow viewers to independently see work at a safe distance,” Katz said.
“The festival also asked artists to reflect on how the pandemic has impacted their lives and work as well as how it has changed how we perceive public/private space,” Katz explained.
The “Treasure Hunt” theme serves as a metaphor for artists’ experiences during pandemic isolation and their interpretations of boundaries between public and private.
In developing “InterFace,” Dworsky and Sagan drew on architectural perspective.
“Architects talk a lot about issues of private versus public space. The porch is an important interstitial space between them,” Dworsky said.
“In Montpelier because of COVID, porches have also become a place for connecting through the arts — with (singer-songwriter) Patti Casey’s concerts in our neighborhood with people playing music there. The porch transforms as a way to connect with safe social distance,” Sagan said.
“In this era, I think that we are leading heightened private lives,” he noted.
Among the things that changed for many people staying close to home, was attention to things inside the house. As Dworsky noted, key drawers got cleaned, shelves organized, new patterns of items took shape.
For the installation, the pair turned to tetrahedrons, forms Dworsky has used in other installations. With 5-foot-long dowels for edges and fabric stretched between them, they have a light kite-like quality.
Projected on them is video filmed inside the home, panning through rooms and surfaces.
“The experience is of slow transformation of color and form. At times you may recognize objects, at other times they are less clear,” Dworsky said.
“The projection is fragmented, mediated by the structure of installation. It seems appropriate of these times. You’re never able to present a clear picture of your life, but you want to reach out and communicate, this is what my life looks like in this era,” Sagan said.