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Jamie Isenstein ’98: The Lady Returns

By Robin Tovey '97 on September 17, 2013 03:48 PM

Photos by Evan La Londe

Jamie Isenstein ’98, last seen on campus in 2011, inhabiting an armchair (The Lady Vanishes) returns to the Cooley Gallery for a public reception, beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 19, 2013. This mid-career survey is curated by gallery director Stephanie Snyder ’91, who admires Jamie's drawings, mixed-media sculptures, and installations as pieces that "engage the artist’s body as an artistic medium—a subject of humor, theatricality, and historical representation." A studio art major at Reed, Jamie became intrigued with Northern Renaissance art and considers her own work to be an update on many of the themes popular then, such as the Vanitas and Momento Mori. At Art Basel in 2011, she staged an "anti-concert" in which she spent two weeks weaving a rug onto a harp, compromising its strings and thereby removing music (dampening sound) vs. making music (video). You can see her at her harp once again on Thursday evening. 

intermissionIn an essay for the catalog of the exhibition, Jamie Isenstein: Will Return, Graham Jones ’97, MIT anthropologist and an expert on the subculture of entertainment magic, suggests that the magician's craft relies upon an audience that is aware of the deception and desiring of it. He has great appreciation for the ways in which Jamie uses her half-hidden body to evoke curiosity and desire; she is gently teasing her audience with the deferred possibility of interaction, which is in itself the physical manifestation of her "intermission" and "will return" conceits. Just as she provokes a kind of awe when confined to motionless poses, we are forced to pause and consider new ways of perceiving art in spite of our own constraints.

The Oregonian found Jamie's art to be delightful, showcasing "a range of ingenious illusions that allow her to be literally present and symbolically absent." The exhibition runs through October 20 at the Cooley Gallery inside Hauser Library.

A full color, 130-page catalog, edited by Stephanie Snyder and published by the Cooley Gallery, includes texts by Graham and David Velasco ’00, as well as Jamie herself. The catalog is available at the Cooley Gallery, PICA, and the Reed bookstore.

jamie_kreps
Inside Out with Jamie Isenstein [Press shot), 2004. Framed black and white photograph, 8 x 10 in. Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.