Current Space, an artist-run art gallery and studio in Mount Vernon, hosted the opening reception for its current show, The Garden of Forking Paths, along with sounds from the base of a mountain on Saturday Feb. 29. This year marks 10 years that Current Space, around since 2004, has been at its new location in the Bromo Arts District, a designated arts district of Baltimore.
This new exhibit, The Garden of Forking Paths, features works by Angel, Grace Kwon, Sobia Ahmad, Samuel Rosen, Samantha Vassor and Nilou Kazemzadeh. Meanwhile, sounds from the base of a mountain displayed seven installations by sound sculptor Katie Addada Shlon.
What made this installation particularly interesting was how interactive it was. Viewers were permitted to touch the chimes and percussive instruments as a way of exploring different sounds.
I was initially drawn to this event due to familiarity with the title of the exhibit, The Garden of Forking Paths. As a sucker for any literary reference, I knew I had to attend this reception.
The Garden of Forking Paths, written by Argentinian writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges, is a short story about a Chinese spy, Doctor Yu Tsun, who worked for Imperial Germany during World War I. His great-grandfather wrote what seemed to be an incomplete and nonsensical novel.
Tsun, who has discovered the location of a new British artillery park and simultaneously knows of his impending death, needs to somehow deliver the information he possesses to Germany.
He decides to do so by killing a man of the same name as the location, “Albert.” Before Tsun kills him, Doctor Stephen “Albert” reveals to him the truth about Tsun’s ancestor’s book — that the book itself is a labyrinth and embodies the concept of “the garden of forking paths”.
Each time something happens to somebody, in an alternate dimension, the event transpired differently, and all of these simultaneous alternate realities coexist as a labyrinth.
In speaking to Brennan Cox, Emma, Hill and You Wu, the curators of The Garden of Forking Paths at the reception, I learned that they decided on this title for this exhibit after they brainstormed together this past fall.
Initially, they had begun with one piece, – Angel’s piece in the exhibit, “Neither/Or (Dog/Woman).” The piece is a reimagining of the Baltimore landmark Male/Female, in the form of a persona that Angel created, ‘The Human Dog Hybrid.’
The curators wanted to focus on landmarks central to Baltimore that everyone living within the city would know and see frequently.
So the artists whose works they chose to showcase in this exhibit are all based in Baltimore, or the immediate surrounding D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.
The curators emphasized that they specifically mean “landmarks” as distinct from monuments and wanted to pursue the more literal meaning behind landmarks as navigational tools in nature.
All three curators had read Borges’ story and were interested in this idea of “forking paths,” and explained that each of the pieces in this exhibit exist entirely on their own as individual works while they are simultaneously connected in concept by the theme of the event.
The reception itself was packed and lively. Viewers mostly came in groups of friends and explored the space enthusiastically and joyously. The event was interactive and social; excited conversations bounced off all the walls of the rooms.
Attending the event felt particularly Baltimorean and left me with a greater appreciation for the landmarks we pass by everyday as residents of this charming city.