‘Rough and Unequal’ exhibit encourages patrons to look outward to see within
A timelapse video of people constructing an exhibit in an art gallery. The finished exhibit is two projectors on top of pillars, with benches for seating.
The lights go off, and projectors blink.
In a darkened gallery, accompanied by the rhythmic click of two projectors cycling through 16mm film, the moon waxes and wanes over white-washed walls. A visitor sees the moon at two separate phases, projected in black and white on opposite sides of the gallery.
The exhibit, on display at the Grunwald Gallery of Art from Aug. 6-Oct. 4, features the 11-minute silent film, “Rough and Unequal,” by artist Kevin Everson.
“Students, faculty, film buffs, media people, artists, speculative sci-fi types and moon fanatics” are all people who might be interested in the exhibit, said Black Film Center/Archive director Terri Francis.
Francis said Everson’s film is about more than the moon – it’s about contemplation, togetherness and looking within.
Everson shot “Rough and Unequal” shortly after the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally of 2017, and Francis said this detail is an essential part of understanding the film. At a time when American media and citizens were focusing their attention on Charlottesville, Everson looked outward. Francis said that, through this effort, Everson also succeeded at looking within.
“’Rough and Unequal’ looks outward to the sky and the moon, in particular, and that gesture is a really curious one. Is it turning away from, or is it turning inward?” Francis asked. “So much of what attracts me to Kevin’s work and has attracted me to it over the years is the contemplative aspect. There’s a slowness and a quietness to his work.”
Betsy Stirratt, founding director of the Grunwald Gallery, said the film will force visitors to slow down, something she anticipates might be difficult for them. Seating is available in the gallery for the duration of the exhibit so that visitors can stop and experience “Rough and Unequal” at their leisure.
“It’s going to take people time,” she said. “It’s an intimate kind of experience, and I hope that’s something people will take away.”
Francis also hopes visitors will leave with a sense of togetherness, a similar sensation to “gathering around a furnace” to share stories and community. Stirratt said the exhibit invites people to return more than once – to sit and observe the film and reflect.
The idea of reflection is something that appears frequently in Everson’s work, Francis said. His past films have explored the minutia of everyday life through the lenses of ordinary people and have addressed themes like race, sexuality, economic hardship and community.
Everson will visit Bloomington from Sept. 27-28 for a symposium, also titled Rough and Unequal, exploring his film. During the weekend, attendees will have the opportunity to chat with Everson at roundtables or to sit in on his discussion with Francis about his film.
On Sept. 28, a screening of some of Everson’s other works will be held at the IU Libraries Moving Image Archive at Wells Library. The screening will be followed by a conversation with Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award-winning poet Ross Gay, who teaches at IU.
The exhibit is a collaboration between the BFC/A and the Grunwald Gallery.