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Benton Museum of Art hosts immersive installation and performance

Starting April 28, the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College will be the site of “Tumbling Rose,” one of the most ambitious presentations ever staged at the art museum.

“Tumbling Rose, part of a larger project called Intersection, constructs a non-hierarchical entwining of traditionally separate media, queering the conventional division between the ephemeral world of performance, dance and music, and the spatial objecthood of painting and sculpture,” according to a museum news release. “In the Benton’s Loeb Family Art Pavilion and adjacent courtyard, the two artists have created a vast, synesthetic work that explores the interconnectivity of painting, sound, dance, and film.”

The exhibit is a collaboration by painter and sculptor Iva Gueorguieva, and actor, dancer and choreographer, Emma Portner.

“The intention is to produce an origami, not a dividing line, and sensation operates in that folded and intertwined configuration,” Gueorguieva said in a statement.

There are multiple components to “Tumbling Rose” including an immersive installation of painted canvases and tapestries in the Benton’s Loeb Family Art Pavilion, three films and a culminating live performance by Portner.

“The paintings by Gueorguieva are complex compositions that are both illusionistic and intensely sculptural, with cuts and passages of transparent gauze that reveal other layers or viewpoints. Many of the works are double-sided and hang at various angles; they dissect the space and function as costume, prop, mask, and camouflage at once,” the news release added. The installation by Gueorguieva and Portner will present three films: “Corner,” “Sting Ray” and “Tumbling Rose.”

“Tumbling Rose” has roots and inspirations across cultures and artistic genres. One is the Yupik word Ella, for example, which is the same for “self,” “weather,” “other,” and “wind.” It suggests a sort of motion that intertwines interior space and the exterior world.

Another is the essay “Wind Daruma” by the founder of the Japanese dance genre of Butoh, Hijikata Tatsumi. In the essay he describes a figure of wind sweeping up and through discrete bodies, transforming, erasing, “immolating” them. Like the “Wind Daruma” Portner, in the films and performance, continuously transforms into multiple characters reminiscent of feverish dreams or the daily news: the executioner and victim, the lover and the beloved, the maker and destroyer.

Perhaps most trenchantly, “Tumbling Rose” finds a first-degree relative in the early 20th century art movement of Dada, born of the chaos and destruction of World War I. Dada artists forged an aesthetic strategy out of disruption, disillusionment, and the embrace of uncertainty.

The installation will be on view at the Benton until May 8, as will eleven accompanying drawings by Gueorguieva in the museum’s art hall.

At 6:30 pm on May 3, the installation will be fully activated and will feature a live dance performance by Portner in a sonic environment created by Matt McGarvey, which will also features a brief violin performance, according to a museum news release.

For more information about “Tumbling Rose,” visit pomona.edu/museum/exhibitions/2022/tumbling-rose. For more information about the museum, contact (909) 621-8283.

The Benton Museum of Art is located at 120 W. Bonita Ave. On April 15, the museum updated its hours which are as follows: Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 6 p.m., with extended hours until 10 p.m. every Thursday. The museum will remain closed to the public on Monday and Tuesday.

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