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‘INBOUND: HOUSTON’ TO REDEFINE COMMUTERS’ VIEW OF CITY’S BILLBOARDS
Visiting artist Karyn Olivier replaces billboard ads with life-sized images of surrounding environment
HOUSTON, Texas (October 14, 2009) – Drivers on Houston’s freeways are used to seeing billboards promoting fashion, fast food, beverages and other items. Starting October 26, they will have a new view of the urban landscape that lies beyond the ads, courtesy of the University of Houston’s Mitchell Center for the Arts.
UH Mitchell Center visiting artist Karyn Olivier is replacing 13 billboard ads across Houston with life-sized photographic representations of what drivers would see if the advertising did not exist: sky, buildings, homes, trees and other elements of the environment.
Olivier’s major public art project, “Inbound: Houston,” will reveal this new view of the city
Oct. 26 through Nov. 22. Houstonians can celebrate the launch of this exciting project at a free kickoff party on October 26 at 6 p.m. at DiverseWorks (1117 E. Freeway). The event will feature an artist talk with Olivier and billboard viewings as well as live music and details of a special geo-caching scavenger hunt.
Presented by the Mitchell Center in collaboration with the Moores School of Music, Creative Capital, DiverseWorks and CBS Outdoor, “Inbound: Houston” will be located along Houston’s major freeways including six points along U.S. Highway 59 (Southwest Freeway), one location along Interstate 10 at Wood St. (in between I-45 and Hwy 59), three points along North Beltway 8 and two locations along Loop 610 North near Main Street.
“We are thrilled to present this wholly original event in Houston,” said Karen Farber, director of the Mitchell Center. “Karyn Olivier will bring a totally new experience to our daily trips on Houston’s freeways. What is invisible will become visible, and vice versa.”
According to Olivier, the project’s goal is to confront drivers with an “unsettling and uncanny” experience in which the replacement images suggest a different reality. Photos of the behind-the-billboard landscapes will vary considering they will be taken at different times of the day and during different weather and lighting conditions.
“I want to see how each change affects the way people understand the pictures when the landscape is no longer the same as it is in the image,” Olivier said.
“Inbound: Houston” is inspired by works such as Rene Margitte’s painting within a painting “The Human Condition” (1933) and Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ 1990 billboard piece detailing an empty bed (symbolic of the artist’s partner’s AIDS-related death). Olivier said it also uses concepts from literature such as Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” and Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities.” Both novels address false appearances and fabricated existence.
“Inbound: Houston” also spurred the Mitchell Center to commission a musical score from UH Moores School composers Paul Wadle and Joel Love. A concert on November 16 at 7:30 p.m. by AURA, the Moores School of Music’s Contemporary Ensemble, will include the premiere performance of Wadle and Love’s compositions, featuring videos and photos of Olivier’s billboards. The concert will be made available as a Podcast on www.kuhf.org that can be listened to while driving past the “Inbound: Houston” billboards.
During her residency, Olivier will also work with UH students in the Mitchell Center Mentorships course to produce collaborative projects in the community.
Photo by: dabfoto creative
High resolution photos available upon request
About the Mitchell Center
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston cultivates interdisciplinary collaboration in the performing, visual, and literary arts. From its base at the University of Houston, the center offers public events, residencies, and curriculum that fuse artistic disciplines, ignite dialogue, and open doors to new ways of seeing and understanding the arts and the world around us. The Mitchell Center forms an alliance among five units at the University of Houston: The School of Art, Creative Writing Program, Moores School of Music, School of Theatre and Dance, and Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston. For more information about the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston, visit www.mitchellcenterforarts.org.