Two nearly-transparent photos hang from the ceiling next to the entrance of the Knowledge Center’s first floor, the @One. The photos are the same — one has a negative filter — and feature three girls in an old-fashioned photograph peering solemnly into the camera. Students, employees and visitors walking through the doors examine the photos with mild intrigue as they scurry to their next destination.
These ghost-like photos are part of an exhibition called “Existence: Self Presence”, curated by Mahedi Anjuman. Anjuman is a graduate art student who practices interdisciplinary art mediums like sculpture, performance and video art. She also teaches Drawing 101 at the university. The exhibition she’s put together features art pieces spread throughout a hallway outside of the @One, and includes videos, projections, photography, drawings and even virtual reality.
“I was very conscious about this space”, she says, gesturing to the area outside the @One, “because it’s not very secure. Like, no guard and not a good camera. And I’m using a projector and all that. But altogether it’s not bad, it’s just in our planning.”
The idea behind the exhibition centers on philosophical ideas of self and what it means to exist. Inspired by René Descartes’ famous quote, “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am,” the exhibit aims to give different artistic perspectives on who we are, what existence is and what the point of life might be.
Anjuman has always been interested in existential philosophy, and explores it within her own art frequently. She was inspired to curate the exhibition after doing a midway show titled “Existence: My Name is You”. Several of her mentors attended in support, and later encouraged Anjuman to do another exhibition exploring the same philosophical ideology.
“They are in between teachers and friends,” she says. “All the video techniques, I learned all of it from Kyle [Weerheim], audio from Michelle [Rebaleati], Daniel [Fergus], all the time […] and I found them at all of my exhibitions. They always encourage me.”
In an effort to make the exhibition less formal and more experimental, she decided to branch outside of just video. After doing more research on existential philosophy, she found evidence of self-questioning and existentialism in a variety of other arts.
“[I knew] if I do only the video exhibition, it’s going to be just one perspective. That’s why I chose different mediums as well, like photography and drawing,” she says.
Some of the art pieces in the exhibition were chosen by Anjuman herself, including one of her own. Other pieces were created after artists were asked to a be part of the show. Some of these artists include her mentors, Weerheim and Rebaleati. Other artists are some of Anjuman’s close friends, classmates and even her husband, Shakhawat Hossain Razib.
One thing that’s particularly interesting about “Existence: Self Presence”, however, is the lack of titles attached to the art pieces.
“I don’t want to put any titles [on the exhibits] because it’s a group of work,” Anjuman says. “It’s not like separate, separate work. It’s a group exhibition, but not like in a conventional way […] For this time being, they are under one title. That is, ‘Existence: Self Presence’”.
The exhibition can be found and explored outside of the @One, across from the Wells Fargo auditorium, and will be up the entire month of February. Other artists included in the exhibition include Scott Coops, Bryan DeDeurwaerder, Hannah Huntley, Kristof Janvary, Gwaylon Leaf, Frances Melhop, Vera Miller and Sogand Tabatabaei.
Carla Suggs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @carla_suggs.