In CAM Show, Rachel Youn explores where Megachurch meets the dance club

Every two years, local artists are honored at the St. Louis Museum of Contemporary Art. Since 2003, the gallery has partnered with the Gateway Foundation to offer the Great Rivers Biennial Arts Award program.

The effort shines a spotlight on local emerging artists in the greater Saint-Louis area and offers them a stipend of $ 20,000. This year’s winners are Kahlil Robert Irving, Tim Portlock and Rachel Youn.

Wednesday Saint Louis on the air, host Sarah Fenske explored Great Rivers’ latest biennial exhibit, which opened on September 11. Misa Jeffereis, Assistant Curator at CAM, discussed her work in organizing the exhibition.

Youn also participated in the conversation, which talked about “Gather,” the kinetic spectacle currently on display at the St. Louis Museum of Contemporary Art. Bright lights, “dancing” plants and a personalized soundtrack are just some of the details showcased in Youn’s 50 sculpture project.

At first glance, patrons may feel like they’re at a dance club or house party, complete with colorful lights, a disco ball, and music from local band GodsBod. Large artificial plants rigged by a jury with masseurs to shake and sway to the beat of audio tracks played from vintage speakers in the background.

But it’s not just a dance party. The decor also evokes the scene of an evangelical mega-church. Youn’s father is a Southern Baptist pastor and as a child the artist spent a lot of time in church.

“Really intense chanting and praying was also a part of what I grew up with in the church, and there was that moment when you turned off the lights and played music, and people just left their hearts out and prayed. out loud and shake their fists and rock back and forth, ”Youn said.

Part of the soundtrack is Korean gospel, as the gallery mixes the lines between dance and worship.

“I really started to see this similarity with my sculptures,” said Youn, who identifies as queer. “On the one hand, they sort of dance. On the other hand, they worship or tremble in this ecstatic way. And so what I was hoping to accomplish with the show was to sort of create this gray area between those spaces. … On the one hand, it is this truly joyful space, and on the other, it is also this truly intense religious space.

Associated event
What: Biennial Great Rivers Exhibition 2020
When: now until February 21
Where: St. Louis Museum of Contemporary Art (3750 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108)

St. Louis on the Air ”tells you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The sound engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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