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not me you but it is me too

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts opens its spring season of exhibitions of work by seniors in the program on February 28 with an exhibition of works and a series of performance art pieces by Polly Korbel. In “not me you but it is me too” Korbel will present several different performances over the duration of her show, which runs from February 28 through March 8 in the Lucas Gallery at 185 Nassau Street. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, February 28 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the gallery.   Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The exhibition, performances and reception are free and open to the public.

Korbel, a political science major pursuing a certificate in visual arts, is focusing her senior project on the human body as an object and a machine, the treatment of which in the various performance pieces seeks to engender an empathetic emotional response.   

“In my show, my body is simply a tool, material, an object,” explains Korbel. “Using that object in a variety of actions and scenarios, as a machine might function, my hope is to illicit empathy from the viewer to reflect on their own ‘use’ and the way that others are used in society, how they use and relate to others in everyday interactions.” 

To prepare for her show, Korbel spent 100 hours from February 14 through 18 in meditation, secluding herself for most of that time in her sparse studio in total isolation, not speaking and consuming only water. She notes that this process was intended to help her “understand silence, to understand what it is to be an object.” Her studio space is on view in room 301 at 185 Nassau Street.   She will also be present in the gallery around-the-clock during the week of her show, consuming only rice and water, which she will offer to visitors.

In the gallery starting on February 28 will be a looping version of a film Korbel created, viewed inside a small room built in the gallery and reached via a ladder through a small opening. The film communicates the idea of returning home as an adult when one literally and figuratively changes clothes, as well as their behavior, their role, and how they relate to the people around them as they move from the one environment to the other.  Behind another constructed partition in the gallery she will spend four or more hours a day bouncing a ball against a wall, emphasizing the repetition of a machine inspired in part by the Hollerith machine, a primitive computer which used punch cards to sort populations by their racial, cultural or religious characteristics.

Throughout the duration of her show she will present several performance pieces. On February 28 at 7:00 p.m., during the opening reception, she will present Nailed in which a fellow student will nail Korbel’s long hair to the gallery wall creating intricate designs as she sits suspended by her hair. On March 3 at 1:00 p.m. she will partially seclude herself behind a wall in the gallery to present Sledgehammer, where she will labor for several hours to break a concrete block using a large sledgehammer. On March 6 at 5:00 p.m. she will present Wrap in which a fellow student will wrap her in fibers.  On March 6 at 4:30 p.m. faculty and students of the Program in Visual Arts will join Korbel in Crit, in which they will provide an in-depth critique of her work, open to the public.  Her performances will conclude on March 8 at 12:30 p.m. with Come, a performance piece she has organized in the past, presented most recently in Palmer Square in downtown Princeton.  In this piece, viewers will be invited to change into provided white clothes and join her on a small platform covered with powdered charcoal. Once on the platform, Korbel will position participants, as they position her, into a form.  As they move on the platform their white clothes become smudged by the charcoal in unique markings.

The film  in the exhibition contains brief, partial nudity and may not be suitable for all audiences.

To learn more about this event, the Program in Visual Arts, and the more than 100 other events presented each year by the Lewis Center visit

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Event Information

Opening reception:
Thursday, February 28th
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Exhibit runs:
February 28 - March 8, 2013

10 AM - 4:30 PM

Lucas Gallery
Lewis Center for the Arts
at 185 Nassau Street
Princeton University

Free and open to the public

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