Berman Museum

Alison Safford, Mouth Fountain
Alison Safford, Mouth Fountain

Alison Safford

Anthro(Site) is Alison Safford’s meditation on the motion of bodies—human, celestial, and terrestrial—as they converge, collide, depart, or reunite through random or cyclical events, instances of migration and mortality, and orientations to place and space.

Anthro(Site) immerses viewers in proximate relationships with objects and issues that make intimate both the macro- and microscopic. Viewers are invited to sit in two rocking chairs that provide privileged encounters with earth and sky. In one chair, the viewer accesses a recording of the Churyumov–Gerasimenko Comet—also designated Comet 67P—hurtling through space. The European Space Agency’s Rosetta satellite’s 2014 rendezvous with Comet 67P sourced detailed recordings from its surface: images surveying its distinctive shape—resulting from a collision of two smaller comets—and the sound of a tonal chirp. Through a chance meeting, two comets become one and achieve synchronicity in a 6.5-year solar orbit. The second chair affords a shimmering subterranean view, reminiscent of the anthracite coal mined in Pennsylvania. Here, matter pulses and breathes in concordance with elegiac chants that emanate from deep within a sculptural mountain range. The galactic and earthly realms meet in central orbs, over which snow squalls across the comet’s surface to an earthly plain; distant events converge and vast expanses diminish. If rocking chairs conjure periods of leisure or contemplation, these vantage points allow personal communion with rhythms of earth and sky.

The felted and beaded objects in the vitrine evoke archaeological relics designed to fill the mouth, as though while gazing skyward, a comet, cloud, or mountain swooped down and merged with the viewer. The viewer thus “speaks” the form in all its beauty and force, bridging distances at a cultural moment when proximity can be equally physical or virtual.

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