CCA Wattis, San Francisco

Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts / 360 Kansas Street
CA 94103-5130 San Francisco

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artist / participant

press release

Trisha Donnelly's project takes as its starting point the potential offered by a bulletin board to frame seemingly unrelated or disparate material in order to establish what might be thought of as a possible narrative. Cryptically titled 44 Days to Hanoi—a title that alludes to an exotic elsewhere as well as invoking an aspect of American foreign policy in the 1960s and 1970s—Donnelly's project centers around the libretto of the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin's unfinished opera "The Mysterium."

Scriabin (1872–1915) was an enigmatic figure, who would eventually take his own life, and is often considered to be one of the first modern composers. His unfinished, and unrealized, epic "The Mysterium" was intended as an immersive experience of "total theatre," which would have included an expanded orchestra, a vast chorus, and scores of dancers, all set to an accompaniment of bells suspended from zeppelin-like airships. Scriabin stipulated that "The Mysterium" be performed in a custom-built amphitheater in India.

Following the free-associative logic of Scriabin's text, and the somewhat surreal impulses of its staging, Donnelly's project proposes an unlikely alliance between its three distinctive parts: an acronym-like text work that spells out the project's title, the complete libretto of "The Mysterium," and two inflated black balloons arranged in an inverted V formation. As in all Donnelly's works, narrative is suggested rather than explicitly stated. The utopian premise of Scriabin's text, which sought to unite the heavens with earth, is conflicted by an allusion to the Vietnam War, invoked by both the project's title and by an inverted V—for Victory?—made up from distinctly un-festive black missile-like balloons.

Trisha Donnelly was born in 1974 in San Francisco, California, where she continues to live and work. Recent solo exhibitions include Casey Kaplan 10-6, New York, and Air de Paris, Paris. Donnelly's work was included in Utopia Station at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and will be included in The Gray Area—Uncertain Images: Bay Area Photography 1970s to Now, Wattis Institute (December 2, 2003–February 14, 2004).

The Bulletin Board has been supported by a generous grant from Art for Art's Sake, New York. The Bulletin Board is a project space that is part of the ongoing exhibitions and public programs of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Each semester three artists/practitioners are invited to create new projects for the Bulletin Board.

Trisha Donnelly
44 Days to Hanoi
Bulletin Board Project