Gary Sczerbaniewicz wants you to be uncomfortable.
The Buffalo artist creates disturbing dioramas of doll-house-like rooms designed to make viewers uneasy. Sometimes it’s as obvious as broken floorboards hiding a portal to Hell. Other times, it’s more subtle, like images of space aliens displayed in a church.
Sczerbaniewicz shares these unnerving creations by forcing viewers to assume uncomfortable positions, like sliding through a tunnel or bending at an odd angle in order to see the artwork..
He is currently showing two bodies of his interactive sculpture in an exhibition titled “The Tower and the Shard,” on display in the Dowd Gallery at SUNY Cortland.
Located in the university’s Dowd Fine Arts Center, the exhibition, which opened Nov. 3 and runs through mid-February 2021, will be available both virtually and in-person.
All lectures will be held virtually via Webex. Detailed information on this and other exhibitions, safety protocols, on-line booking and link invitations will be posted on the Dowd Gallery website and social media.
The program will feature presentations by diverse list of guests on topics ranging from sculpture and architecture to conspiracy theories in the context of art. The exhibition includes virtual gallery tours, an artist’s talk, a panel discussion, gallery conversations, film screenings and the opportunity for in-person gallery visits. Sponsored by the Art and Art History Department and the Art Exhibition Association, the exhibition and related events are free and open to the public.
Related events include:
Artist’s talk/First Friday: Gary Sczerbaniewicz will discuss “Hybrid Practice” during a First Friday event co-hosted by the Cultural Council of Cortland County and Dowd Gallery. The event takes place Friday, Nov. 6, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. The gallery will stream images and a 3D tour before and after the talk. Campus community members can attend in person.
Official Exhibition Opening: “The Tower and the Shard” will open from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Documentary screening: A series of shorts titled “Sculpture and Space” will be shown , from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12.
Documentary Screening: A series of shorts titled “Sculpture as Stage” will be shown from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19.
Gallery conversation: Reinhard Reitzenstein, associate professor and director of the sculpture program at SUNY Buffalo, will join the artist in a discussion titled “Sculpture in the Expanded Field” from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3. The talk will focus on the formal aspects of creative processes and inspiration in the context of personal and general practices in the field of sculpture and object-making.
First Friday: A guided tour, both in person and virtual, will be offered from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4.The event was organized by the Cultural Council of Cortland County and co-hosted with the gallery.
Gallery conversation: Beth Saunders, curator and head of Special Collections and Gallery at Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, will present “Enigma Loop: Unraveling the Aesthetics of Conspiracy.” The talk will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8. Her lecture will focus on her curatorial involvement with an exhibition “Everything Is Connected: Art and Conspiracy,” put on by the Met Breuer in New York in 2019; her other project, “Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography,” an exhibition of photographs also presented by the Met Breuer in late 2019; and other related topics.
Panel discussion: The presentation “The City as Built is an Emotional Sculpture” will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10. Panelists include the artist Sczerbaniewicz; Jennifer Minner, associate professor at Cornell University’s City and Regional Planning College of Architecture Art, and Planning; and Jaroslava Prihodova, Dowd Gallery director.
Sczerbaniewicz’s hybrid constructions inhabit an ambiguous space between architecture, man-made environments, installation, sculpture and theatrical stagecraft, said gallery Director Jaroslava Prihodova.
“His elaborate sculptural environments and dioramas, often enhanced by sound, create an immersive sensory experience designed to disorient the viewer to break the staid, often detached and familiar approach to consuming artwork,” she said.
“My recent work investigates the concept of cognitive dissonance as articulated through an architectural lexicon to construct unfamiliar or fantastic scenarios,” Sczerbaniewicz said.
He often fuses imagery adopted from his recollection of the Cold War and Catholicism to amplify the unsettling, the weird, the eerie and even the world of conspiracy theory.
“His practice becomes even more relevant in the light of a new reality effected by the global pandemic and the tenuous political climate embroidered with many threads of misinformation and untruths,” Prihodova said.
The artist has drawn some of his subject matter from the occult and conspiracy theory, specifically relating to NASA’s Apollo lunar missions.
“During the course of this research, I experienced a disorienting sense of intellectual uncertainty about the nature of truth, which began to creep into my daily thinking about official histories and the lingering sub-narratives that often co-exist with these, growing in their own dark corners of our fertile, imaginative cultural landscape,” Sczerbaniewicz said.
Wall-mounted objects from the “Untitled” series work with scaled-down models of real or fictitious architectural scenarios marked by evidence of a past existence, external trauma, neglect and inevitable vestiges of time.
For more information, to schedule an appointment, a tour, or obtain additional images, contact Prihodova at 607-753-4216. Gallery hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Please support the Dowd Gallery here.