WHAT: "La Meme Chose: Video installation and photographs by Johnna MacArthur"
WHEN: Begins Saturday with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. and continues through Feb. 24
WHERE: Carnegie Art Center, 240 Goundry St., North Tonawanda
A number of portraits exist of Queen Elizabeth standing and holding a sieve, an object that during the Renaissance was associated with virginity. Keying on this curious symbolism Johnna MacArthur, a New York City-based artist now teaching photography at Syracuse University, has made a video and photographic installation, "La Meme Chose" ("The Same Thing"). It turns out Queen Elizabeth's symbolic sieve goes back to ancient Greece where a vestal virgin by the name of Tuccia carried water from the Tiber River to the temple without losing a drop. By the mysterious rules of Greek myth this impossible act was taken as a proof of her virginity.
To set the stage for her video, MacArthur has lined the back wall of the octagon-shaped Carnegie Art Center gallery with aluminum foil perforated to resemble a sieve. A huge muslin fabric is stretched across the center of the space as a screen for her video, "Waiting." In it, a woman stands by a river and slowly builds a wall around herself. It is a useless wall that does nothing to stem the flow of the river. The artist says she is fascinated by actions such as this that don't really change anything and - as in the sieve test - prove things that are unprovable. The accompanying photographs - studio shots of the artist herself - repeat Tuccia's demonstration with the sieve in a contemporary context. This time, however, the water flows merrily through the sieve in the expected way.
"In the Name of Noise," a collaborative installation by Tonawanda City High School art students, will also be on display.