“If we can imagine it, then we can work toward making it real.”
Local artist Alicia Eggert shines light on political issues and starts conversations – and hopefully is making the future brighter.
Alicia is showing an installation at PRELUDE called “The Future.” Three marquee-like signs spell the word “FUTURE” in the world’s most commonly spoken languages: English, Chinese and Hindi. Each sign is composed of 206 light bulbs, representing every one of the world’s 206 sovereign states. The individual lights are turned on or off to depict each state’s standing on three specific human rights issues: armed conflict, gay marriage, and the death penalty. Although many lights remain dim at this present time, they represent the potential for change, and for achieving a brighter, more peaceful, and more sustainable future.
What is your greatest artistic inspiration?
I am inspired by many artists who were involved in the conceptual art movement in the 1960s: Yoko Ono, Sol Lewitt, and Lawrence Weiner, to name a few. I also admire artists who have done innovative work with the concept of time, such as Jean Tinguely, John Cage and Christian Marclay.
What’s a dream project you would like to undertake?
I would love to eventually make 10 of these signs, each in a different language, and each one addressing a different human rights issue. I also dream of making “Eternity” into a billboard, and installing “Forever” in the Bay Area, so it can appear and disappear in that beautiful fog.
How important is the role of the artist in bringing greater public awareness to social and political issues?
Artists make work that reflects the world around them, however big or small. Some truths are ugly and hard to look at, but those are just as important to highlight as the beautiful ones, maybe even more so. If an artist shines light on a specific problem in a certain way, it might just inspire someone to work toward solving it. But in addition to reflecting the world as we see it, there is also the potential to portray how we feel it could or should be. If an artist can get other people to imagine those alternate realities, it is a very powerful thing. If we can imagine it, then we can work toward making it real.
What’s been the public’s response to this visual mapping of sites of war and peace at previous displays of “The Future”?
The original version of “The Future” has been shown at TED2015 in Vancouver, Canada, at the Cartagena Data Festival in Cartagena, Colombia, and in an exhibition called Writing Lightly at Work/Release in Norfolk, Virginia. There have been a few people who have approached me to say, “This sign is wrong. My country is peaceful, and its light should be on.” The work intentionally simplifies complex issues by representing things like peace and conflict as binary on/off states, which they are not. Our intent is to instigate a conversation about these issues, so that people can start working together to make the future brighter.
Alicia Eggert is an interdisciplinary artist whose work focuses on the relationship between language, image and time. Her artwork often moves, changes, deteriorates, and in some cases, even dies. It has been exhibited internationally, at venues such as the CAFA Art Museum in Beijing and the Triennale Design Museum in Milan. She has had solo exhibitions at Harvard Medical School and at T+H Gallery in Boston. Alicia earned an MFA in Sculpture/Dimensional Studies from Alfred University and is a TED2013 Fellow. She is an Assistant Professor of Studio Art at the University of North Texas in Denton.
PRELUDE will take place over two nights, Friday, October 21 and Saturday, October 22, 2016, and will transforming the AT&T Performing Arts Center campus and the Meyerson Symphony Center with light, video and sound-based, immersive arts installations.