Jeanne Liotta: Break The Sky

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I press the air under my wings and fly. / Why should glass or crystal detain me / When I break the sky and ride infinity!  – Giordano Bruno

Microscope is very pleased to present Break The Sky, the first solo exhibition at the gallery by Jeanne Liotta, whose works we have previously shown in “Triple Blind” (2013), “Slide Slide Slide” (2014), and “Dreamlands: Expanded” (2016-17), a series of expanded cinema events presented in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art as part of the exhibition “Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema & Art 1905-2016”.

A recurring theme of Liotta’s practice – which spans the mediums of moving image, photography, collage, installation, painting, drawing and performance – is a personal and poetic interest in the intersection of art and science and the tools and technology thereof.

The works in Break the Sky contain elements both of continuity and rupture with her multi-award winning film Observando El Cielo (2007), in which the artist filmed the sky over a period of seven years from remote sites, and draw inspiration from the writings and Copernican diagrams by 16th century Italian cosmologist and philosopher Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) as well as current augmented reality “stargazing” smartphone apps for the identification of celestial objects. Although created 500 years apart, Liotta asserts that in essence both approaches serve to allow us to visualize our location in space and consider our existence within the wider universe.

“In This Immense Space Hidden Things Appear Before Us” (2018) is an augmented reality video installation that like Yoko Ono’s 1966 “Sky TV” – to which the work pays homage – brings a live feed of the sky outside into the gallery space. Liotta’s appropriation and use of new technologies allow for her piece, which is projected onto the walls of the gallery, to extend beyond the limits of the visible sky. Video imagery shot in real time by smartphones installed onto the building’s roof are superimposed with computer generated renditions of the actual planets, stars, constellations and other celestial bodies as well as space stations, “junk”, and other known objects in Earth’s orbit.

The live video feeds on view during the gallery hours – from early afternoon daylight to evening darkness – facilitate the experience of our movement on Earth, especially as shown in relation to other planets and star systems: our location in New York City rotating at approximately 750 mph on a planet orbiting the sun at 67,000 mph in a solar system circling the galaxy at 483,000 mph, etc.

Also on view are selections from two related watercolor and ink on paper series by the artist. The “Bruno Studies” watercolors are based on the silhouette of the statue of Giordano Bruno that stands in Rome’s Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, where in 1600 he was burned at the stake for refusing to revoke what were considered heretical views such as insisting that our sun is just one of many and the universe is infinite, and often incorporate text of his writings in “De l’Infinito, Universo e Mondi” (1584).

The “Nightly Studies” – a watercolor, gansai and sumi ink on paper series – find Liotta making her own chartings of the observable sky at night from various locations around the globe during her research. The artist’s detailed, multi-layered use of shades of blue along with her minimal and gestural application of black ink on the page draw visual connections between the human and the cosmic scales: splatters of ink form the Milky Way, a tiny dot of paint a distant galaxy.

Break The Sky opens on January 19th and runs through February 25th, 2018, with an Opening Reception on Friday January 19th, 6-9pm. Gallery hours: Thursday-Monday, or by appointment. For inquiries or additional information please contact the gallery at 347.925.1433 or by email at [email protected].

Jeanne Liotta works in film and other mediums with thematics often located at the intersection of art, science, natural philosophy, and ephemerality. Her most known 16mm film of the night skies, “Observando El Cielo”, received numerous awards including the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, and was voted among the top films of the decade by The Film Society of Lincoln Center. In 2013 Anthology Film Archives presented “The Real World At Last Becomes a Myth”, a complete retrospective of her works in film and video, and in 2014 she received a commission to work with NOAA climate scientists in Boulder, CO to create 360-degree media for Science on a Sphere. Her “one-cut” collages “The Tiffany One-Cuts” culled from pages of the New York Times were incorporated into installations by artist Nancy Shavers at Derek Eller Gallery (2016) and La Biennale di Venezia (2017).

Liotta’s works have also previously been exhibited at The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, Austin, Texas; The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Denver, Colorado; Inova Institute of Visual Arts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; The Camera Club of NY, New York; Songs for Presidents, Brooklyn, NY; and the Halle für Kunst und Media, Graz, Austria among others. Her films have been presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art (including the Whitney Biennial 2006); the New York Film Festival; Rotterdam International Film Festival, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Ann Arbor Film Festival, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Cinémathèque Française, Paris, France; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany; CCCB, Barcelona, Spain; The Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA; The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Machine Project, Los Angeles, CA; and The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas, among others.

Awards include NYSCA, The Jerome Foundation, The Museum of Contemporary Cinema and The Orphans Film Symposium’s Helen Hill Award. Liotta has been a resident at the Experimental Television Center and a MacDowell Colony Fellow. She has also maintained ongoing research, programming and lecturing on The Joseph Cornell Film Collection at Anthology Film Archives, and has written a monograph on Cornell’s films published by The San Francisco Cinematheque for the traveling exhibition “Navigating the Imagination”.

She is presently Associate Professor in Film Studies at The University of Colorado Boulder, and Co-chair of Film/Video at the Bard MFA Program. Jeanne Liotta lives and works between New York and Boulder, Colorado.



Friday, January 19, 2018 (All day) to Sunday, February 25, 2018 (All day)
  • 1329 Willoughby Avenue, #2B
    11237   Brooklyn, New York
    United States
    Phone: +1 347 925 1433
    40° 42' 22.7304" N, 73° 55' 15.87" W