Ella Barclay, Mystic Heuristics: That Which Cannot Not Be, 2016

Ella Barclay, Mystic Heuristics: That Which Cannot Not Be, 2016

Courtesy of Ella Barclay

Eclectic Vox Populi exhibit mashes up the work of 7 Philly artists

The first comprehension challenge in Vox Populi’s newest exhibitThat Which Cannot Not Be, may be understanding the double negative in its name. But that’s not likely to be the only thing that makes viewers pause for a better look.

At first, none of the pieces in the multi-form display seem to go together — visitors to the gallery might find a light installation next to a sculpture next to a documentary photography performance. But there is a connection between the exhibit’s seven artists: Curator Bree Pickering.

Pickering has worked with all of the participants before. Each is based in either Philly or Sydney, both places she’s lived during her career. Bringing the diverse group together was the inspiration for the show.

“It’s interesting to me to find resonances between artists that seem impossible because they come from different worlds,” Pickering said. “I think that because I have traversed both of those places maybe I’m able to see the connections.”

Although it might be futile to attempt to find visual continuity, the similarity Pickering sees in all the pieces is that they convey their respective creators’ style.

Take artist Wilmer Wilson IV, who often works in a form of performance art. He’s known for incorporating ordinary objects like brown paper bags and bandages with the human figure (in several works, he literally covers himself these objects). At Vox Populi, it’s his sculpture that’s featured, but Pickering believes the active nature of his performance style still comes through.

The exhibit’s name is inspired by a GIF (yes, for the less-experienced gallery-goer, GIFs can also be art and not just Beyonce at the VMAs) made by Ella Barclay. Barclay is a Sydney-based artist working with lighting and hardware. Another featured artist, Philadelphia’s Camae Ayewa, uses sound as her preferred medium. Ayewa works with the concept of afrofuturism, a sort of funky eclectic mix of science fiction, Afrocentricity and fantasy meant to explore past and present dilemmas facing people of color.

As it happens, each of the artists featured in TWCNB is proficient in a variety of styles. Catch the profusion starting this Friday, Sept. 2, at a free opening reception from 6 to 10 p.m. The show runs through Oct. 23.

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