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Andrea Ray's Désire is on exhibit in the Center for the Arts' Zilkha Gallery. The dinner table is embedded with speakers, playing a dinner conversation.
Posted 05.15.08

Exhibit on the Past Poses Questions about the Present

May 2 marks the 40th anniversary of a student strike in France that led to a shift to the eventual the end of the De Gaullle government in France.

This historic event is the topic of a new exhibition in Wesleyan’s Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Titled Désire by Andrea Ray, the three-part installation revisits May 1968 to pose a question about the present: Could the Paris model of social and political agency be employed in The United States at a time when deepening crisis is coupled with fear and apathy?

“At Wesleyan, we are acknowledging this important anniversary in the form of a fascinating installation by a young artist who raised interesting questions about then and now,” says Nina Felshin, curator of exhibitions and adjunct lecturer in art history.

Désire  reflects on this against a backdrop of French writer and activist Marguerite Duras' plays and the dinners she often hosted.

The three components of Désire  include “Occupied,” a series of soft-focus photographs of now empty intersections of Paris streets once blocked by students; “The Gift,” a sculptural installation consisting of a dinner table, embedded with speakers, chairs and a "conceptual soup"; and “Rehearse,” a theatrical space with an audio component of an abortive rehearsal of a play based on Duras' Hiroshima Mon Amour.

“Together the three pieces reflect a repetitive search for things seemingly unattainable--a complete understanding of war, an experience of productive social change through protest, and an association with an effective community,” Felshin says.

Felshin and Ashley Casale ’10, a student who completed a 3,000-mile March for Peace across America in 2007, will speak at a WESeminar on Andrea Ray at 3:30 p.m. May 24 in the Zilkha Gallery.

A Hartford Courant article on Désire  is online at http://www.courant.com/entertainment/museums/galleries/hc-dinnerexhibit0510.artmay10,0,964848.story.