The Momentary’s newest exhibit, “Until” by Nick Cave, immerses visitors with crystal chandeliers and kaleidoscope wind spinners highlighting topics such as race and gun violence in America. From offering online concerts to implementing virtual exhibits, The Momentary has revisited their approach in gathering.
The Momentary has reestablished their place in the community after shutting down for the pandemic in mid-March, offering virtual experiences in place of physical attractions. Guests interested in an in-person experience can visit the museum’s latest project, “Until,” a six-piece installation focusing on themes including racism and heaven.
This pandemic has challenged them to think in new ways, said Emily Neuman, public relations manager for the Momentary.
“How do we gather now as a community, how do we support our community, and how can we bring art still into people’s lives?” Neuman asked. “We’ve had to find different avenues to do that.”
In response to the pandemic, the Momentary offers virtual concerts and exhibit tours, while shifting their in-person exhibit schedule.
The “Until” exhibit, built from thousands of different objects, such as wind spinners, common objects and a crystal cloud space, focuses on themes such as race and gun violence in America. Cave’s exhibit displays these everyday objects and disrupts them with harsh images related to these themes.
“It really wasn’t until [the death of] Michael Brown that this exhibit came together” Cave said. “When I heard about the incident, all of the sudden the thought of, ‘Is there racism in Heaven?’ came into my thoughts. And that was the catalyst for Until.”
When creating his exhibit, Cave crafted familiar backyard settings built entirely from wind spinners — an otherwise innocent object — while intertwining images of bullets, guns and teardrops.
“As a nation, people, and country we don’t feel like it’s in our backyard, even though it very much is,” Cave said. “It hits you right in the gut, and forces upon the two emotions of beauty and opulence, but also burdens you with this sense of heaviness.”
Additionally, Cave reworked historically racist symbols such as Black-faced lawn jockeys into intricate artwork full of hope and light.
Black-faced lawn jockeys were originally used as a guide for escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad, now serving as a relic from the slavery era. The slaves would tie green ribbons to the jockey’s arms to represent safety and red ribbons to signal the slaves that they should keep going. Cave has taken these small statues and transformed them into holding butterfly nets — or as he refers to them as — dreamcatchers.
“I used these objects (lawn jockeys) as sort of a way to eradicate this narrative. They’re normally seen holding lanterns, but now they’re holding above their hand these amazing dreamcatchers. So there’s this sort of shift of being liberated,” Cave said.
Before visiting the exhibit Annie Stribling, UA sophomore said she had seen photos of the artwork from the website but had no idea what to expect.
After viewing the artwork, “I think this artwork brings up conversations that are important,” Stribling said. “I think now more than ever it’s important to become aware, even in Northwest Arkansas, that we still have these issues arise,”
Nick Cave’s “Until” is running at the Momentary from now until January 3, 2021. Admission is free for all, and guests 10 years and older are required to wear face coverings at all times.