Crystal Balls for Our Shared Future
March 1, 2021 - April 30, 2021
Office Space is proud to present a new virtual exhibition by Abbey Hepner, a conceptual photographer, in her first solo show with the gallery. This series presents two snow globe sculptures by the artist herself and a crystal ball sculpture donated by Turkish artist Serkan Özkaya that becomes a metaphorical comparison to the snow globes, thus playing off the historical tradition of the snow globe as a more portentous vision of our future.
Think back to a time when you were carefree laying on the floor of your grandparents house. They have a shelf littered with postcards and other random trinkets. There is this globe of water that catches your attention. As you lift it off the shelf the water moves stirring up small shimmering flakes begin to float around the interior. You are told to shake it and as you do the shimmers multiply and fill the clear ball swirling like a winter storm. As the shimmering flakes fall you notice in the center there is a familiar image; perhaps it is a family photo or a small replica of a famous tourist site.
You are amazed to find a tiny little world in there. A world you can hold in hands. Snow Globes, albeit with their kitschy nature to many of us, spark a sentimental feeling or at the very least they are familiar objects from our past to connect to. Artist Abbey Hepner has placed some moments of a collective history for us to examine more intimately. These moments rather than being sentimental or heartwarming these memories are scenes of distrust and disconnection. In one image we see a group of people who hold up signs, perhaps it is the smallness or the childlike wonder we associate with these globes it forces you to look deeper and when you read the signs the viewer is presented with anti-mask slogans and signs stating “COVID is a hoax.” Something I think most of us would like to not be reminded of people out there living in such denial. Hepner has cleverly infused memory of an intense and emotional time with that of a familiar object of many of our childhoods. This series allows us to remember the dramatic social and political tensions of the collective experience of the year 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic which still continues today.
The other snow globe entitled Beach Goers could be read one of two ways from a less cynical perspective: people going out and enjoying their leisure time. Something many Americans have lost over the years with working fifty plus hours a week. They have gotten something back that is so precious time. But this also shows the uncaring people acting and going out like we are not in the midst of a global pandemic everything is fine. Posting on Instagram about their happy lives as a charade of the true inner turmoil that is boiling in the nation and across the world.
I am sure later on this work will end up amongst our textbooks and other great artists this time of creative genius mirrors that of the renaissance... in which artists are working and changing the world in the midst of great plague.
Abbey Hepner is an artist and educator interested in health, technology, and our relationship with place. She frequently works at the intersection of art and science, questioning systems of power and the use of health as a currency. Her practice ranges in execution from art intervention to performance, from coding to biological experimentation, but the artwork almost always lives in and through the photographic medium.
Hepner received degrees in Studio Art and Psychology from the University of Utah and her MFA in Photography from the University of New Mexico. Her work has been exhibited widely in such venues as the Mt. Rokko International Photography Festival (Kobe, Japan), SITE Santa Fe, the University of Buffalo Art Galleries, Noorderlicht Photofestival (Groningen, Netherlands), and the Newspace Center for Photography (Portland, OR). Her work has been recently highlighted in Hyperallergic, Lenscratch, Ars Technica, Artillery Magazine, Aint-Bad Magazine, and Fraction Magazine. In the summer of 2018, she was an artist in residence at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada. Hepner is a 2020 presenter for the Yuma Art Symposium and the Society for Photographic Education in Houston, Texas. She currently teaches at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as an Assistant Professor of Art and Area Head of Photography.
CHECKLIST OF WORKS
Abbey Hepner, Protest: Pandemic Snow Globe, 2020
water, glass, wood, 3D printed objects, found materials, hand-painted miniature railroad figures, and plastic snow, 4” height with 3.125” diameter
Abbey Hepner, Beach Goers: Pandemic Snow Globe, 2020
water, glass, wood, 3D printed objects, found materials, hand-painted miniature railroad figures, and plastic snow, 6” height with 4.75” diameter
Glass crystal ball given as a trophy to Albert Abdul-Barr Wang from Serkan Özkaya of Postmasters Gallery for winning Competition O in 2021.