Now open at Berg by Nordan Art, curated by Kate Bergdorf, are two distinct but curiously connected exhibitions — The Joy Formidable by Livio Korobase, located on the ground level, and L’avion en papier by Mi, located in the small overhead gallery. The Joy Formidable, which rests on a square platform over a body of water, is home to seemingly unrelated elements — a giant cow covered in mystical symbols, the head of the Aztec god Xipe Totec (a life-birth diety who influenced agriculture, the seasons and other cyclical things), a cluster of small ladders on which one can pose, a circle of cats under a tree whose trunk is adored with words related to higher education, and so on. Be sure to click on the many objects, some of which provide poses or rides, and use advanced lighting model if possible — flying bicycles project images onto the giant head of Xipe Totec, but might be best visible in a darker windlight setting.
Livio notes that the installation was inspired by the song “This Ladder is Ours” by the group The Joy Formidable (“This ladder is ours/ This ladder is ours/ We can be anybody else/ Hold on to the fringe/ Jump through from the past/ …”). While the work may not immediately be intelligible, even with support from the lyrics, Livio offers extensive thoughts on the nature of serendipity in his exhibition notecard, noting that, “The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines serendipity as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a satisfactory or beneficial way, understanding the chance as any event that takes place in the absence of any obvious project (randomly or accidentally), which is not relevant to any present need, or in which the cause is unknown. Innovations presented as examples of serendipity have an important characteristic: they were made by individuals able to ‘see bridges where others saw holes’ and connect events creatively, based on the perception of a significant link.”
Overhead in the gallery, Mi’s beautiful and often delicate images all make use of paper airplanes, but subtly, often in the background and often not recognizable for what they are — and paper airplanes lazily float about in abundance in Livio’s installation below, thereby providing a visual and thematic link between the work of the two artists. (Moreover, several of Mi’s images have been used by Livio in The Joy Formidable.) “This exhibit has given me the opportunity to work with the paper airplane,” Mi says. “To me, the paper airplane symbolizes poetry and freedom. Most importantly, it is ephemeral; it takes off and flies. It is a gesture, a moment, a magical plane that eventually smoothly falls, but does not break and can fly again. A moment of dream and grace. The paper airplane can be created by anyone, anywhere; both children and adults alike recognize the transient poetry of this simple object. In my photographs, the paper plane is used as a paper airplane, but also as a sail, a wing, a hat, a boat hull, a safe keeper and it does not leave the woman as it is part of her.” The exhibitions will remain on view through December.