Either I Woke Up, or Come Back to This Earth

Artists-talk at 8 pm ET on Thursday, May 28, via Zoom — learn more here.


“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”

― Ursula K. Le Guin

The VCFA Exhibition Series presents Either I Woke Up, or Come Back to This Earth featuring the work of three alumnx: A_Marcel (Graphic Design), Melissa McClung (Film), and Corey Pickett (Visual Art). The exhibition looks at how we mediate the past—through the potency of objects, digital and physical archives, and ever-reaching technologies—to contend with our present conditions.

A_Marcel’s On the Clock is a video composite/remix of a guerrilla street performance–a carnivalesque processional and migratory feast (hot dogs abound) in spite of, and to spite, the current US Administration, ICE and our general state of emergency. Marcel deploys and celebrates the language of memes to subvert our crisis of modernity. Can a politic of joy, of collaboration, dismantle the rearing hydra head of fascism? The future is here, and now, and it is absurd. 

McClung’s Elevator of Earthly Destruction draws footage from the Prelinger Archive, taking the viewer on an elevator ride that tracks extinctions from the geologic to the human-made, lacing farce with catastrophe. That protagonist escapes to another future in a pink rocket ship, whereas Louie, in McClung’s documentary piece Louie’s Antiques, delves into the past. Louie recounts his dreams–one of which the exhibition title draws from–and muses on the whimsy, difficulties, or even supernatural properties, of his antique objects. 

The deliberate use of material in Pickett’s sculptures, specifically the African and European textiles that comprise his Revolver series, collapses a vast timeline of gun violence toward African Americans. Georgian and Victorian eras mingle with the present, pointing at a contemporary experience that is all too like the past and nervously anticipates more of the same. This tension is further explored in 100 Miles and Runnin, where Pickett weaves together news snippets, cartoons and movie clips to layer American gun policy debate, with the ongoing deaths of black bodies, and an eerie local news story about a flock of dead crows. 

These artists make tools of playfulness and humor to challenge histories of political violence and the anesthetic of nostalgia. The work nudges (or pushes) us to wrestle with past worlds, while we co-imagine and hurtle forward to new ones.