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"The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Collaborative Sculptural Installation by Alexis Smith and Amy Gerstler"
2001-10-14 until 2002-01-22
Museum of Contemporary Art, Downtown
San Diego, CA, USA United States of America

This exhibition will include sculpture, collages, wall texts, and dozens of brooms, addressing a number of themes, including the fairy tales and their archetypal characters; witchcraft and folk beliefs and their relationships to sexuality, domestic life, and drudgery; how women and girls have been cast as the custodians of everyday existence; and the many varied meanings of the word sweep and related metaphors.

The title of the exhibition comes from an ancient tale of magic and hubris, which was adapted by the Brothers Grimm in the 19th century, and entered American popular culture in 1940 when Walt Disney Studios turned Paul Dukas symphony of the same name into a segment of the cartoon feature Fantasia. In the tale, the apprentice magician animates brooms with a magic spell to perform his chores, and then must watch in horror as the willful and uncontrollable brooms get completely out of hand.

The work was inspired by (and has as its centerpiece) Alexis Smiths collection of over 60 brooms in various states of dilapidation, which, in the words of Amy Gerstler, become a chorus of Cinderella-like presences, whose splayed, split bristles resemble disheveled hair. These seemingly homely props of housekeeping may lead a secret, perhaps magical life. Gerstler and Smith, both of whom are based in Los Angeles, have been working together since 1985 when Gerstler asked Smith to design the cover of her book The True Bride. In 1989, they collaborated on Past Lives, an installation and artist book centered around decaying childrens chairs, that related to fate, growing up, expectations, and the trajectory of lives gone awry.

Alexis Smith and Amy Gerstler: The Sorcerers Apprentice is organized by the Miami Art Museum. The expanded San Diego presentation, and is made possible, in part, by the James Irvine Foundation, the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, and the California Arts Council.


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