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Start talking CEPA Gallery's three-month show is the talk of the town

CEPA Gallery wants to get you talking.

The contemporary art and photography gallery's ambitious fall show, "Conversation Pieces," will host exhibitions, performances and lectures from more than a dozen artists and curators over a three-month period.

For those who think of the artistic avant-garde as a weird subcultural netherworld in which artists indulge impulses and ideas that have little or no connection to the real world, "Conversation Pieces" aims -- in its own high-minded way -- to turn that notion on its head.

The idea for the show grew out of the gallery's residency program, in which visiting artists have been encouraged to create works that dealt with various communities in and around Buffalo. CEPA Artistic Director Sean Donaher, who co-curated the show with artist Mariam Ghani, touted CEPA's ties to different segments of the Western New York population through its programming, education programs and collaborative projects with other local organizations.

"One of the many things CEPA has to offer is we have access to many, many different types of communities, and that's demographic-based, gender-based, race-based, it's socioeconomic," Donaher said. "We're constantly trying to keep in the back of our minds ways to engage and re-engage these segments of the population."

Some highlights of the exhibition:

*"Mariam Ghani: Points of Proof": Ghani, a CEPA resident artist, will present the results of two years of interviews with several groups of Buffalonians to whom she posed a specific question: "If someone questioned your right to call yourself an American, what is the one story, object, image or document you would offer as your proof?"

*"Carlos Motta: The Good Life": Gleaned from years of interviews in 12 Latin American cities about the nature and spread of democracy in the region, Motta's 13-part video installation prompts viewers to consider the United States' involvement in Latin American political destiny.

*"Oliver Ressler: For a Completely Different Climate": Downtown bus shelters will be the the site for Ressler's subversive poster project, which transposes the negative notion of young protesters onto the nefarious dealings of businessmen. Ressler will also present a 40-minute video, made with fellow artist Zanny Begg, which was filmed at the 2007 G8 summit in Heiligendamm.

*"InCUBATE, Material Exchange and Adam Bobbette: Repair Shop/Sunday Soups": Buffalo Re-Use, an agency dedicated to salvaging and reusing construction materials in the city, will collaborate with two Chicago-based art collectives to create a temporary "repair shop" in CEPA's Flux gallery. The project will also create an actual soup kitchen that will somehow fund an artist grant.

*"Heather Dewey-Hagborg: Listening Post": A "listening post," consisting of a cell phone and transmitter, will be placed in one of the train stops on Main Street. The post will pick up snippets of conversations, which will then be reconstituted, modified and tweaked by a computer installed inside CEPA.

*"Alexis Bhagat: Lecture on Democracy:" In this performance piece slated for November, Bhagat will use recorded conversations with Buffalo residents about the meaning of words like "freedom" and "democracy" and combine them in a three-channel audio piece.

*"Stephanie Rothenberg: Best Practices with Dr. Rodenberger, A Second Life/Real Life Talk Show": The online world of Second Life, along with CEPA's windows, will host this project that reflects on the exchange of virtual goods and services.

*"Nina Leo & Stefani Bardin: marketplace": This installation and performance takes its inspiration from the storied past of the Market Arcade building, which hosts CEPA Gallery.

*"Sharon Hayes: Everything Else Has Failed, Don't You Think It's Time for Love?": This installation is a document of a 2005 project in which a series of speakers read intimate love letters in front of a live audience.

Over the next three months, CEPA will host a variety of screenings, lectures and events in relation to "Conversation Pieces," all of which are listed on its Web site.

e-mail: cdabkowski@buffnews.com

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PREVIEW

WHAT: "Conversation Pieces"

WHEN: Tonight through Dec. 19

WHERE: CEPA Gallery, 617 Main St.

TICKETS: Free

INFO: 856-2717 or www.cepagallery.org

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