From the March 2017 Desktop News | UA alumna Elizabeth Withstandley began working on a multi-channel video of portraits called “You Can Not Be Replaced” in 2012, and the final product of her two-year labor was recently chosen to participate in the outdoor Electronic 4Culture gallery in Seattle, Washington.
Only 17 U.S. artists were chosen to display their art this year in the street-facing venue at Seattle’s Pioneer Square, and her work will be displayed from May 2017 until March 2018.
Withstandley said that her piece, “You Can Not Be Replaced,” is really about individuality. She began the work by photographing all 22 current members of the Dallas choral symphonic rock band The Polyphonic Spree. She then spent two years tracking down and photographing all 60 former members of the band.
Her piece will be displayed facing the street so passersby can enjoy her collage of transforming portraits while walking through Seattle. An audio track of ambient cosmic recordings, spoken word, and segments of the band’s song “It’s the Sun” accompany the video.
“I want people to think about how they see themselves as an individual,” Withstandley said. “I want them to ask whether or not there is something unique about these band members and whether or not everyone is replaceable.”
Budding out of her current work on individuality, Withstandley has begun a new project exploring the name Brian Wilson. Her plan is to gather information about all the people named Brian Wilson in the world in order to compare and contrast all of these ind
ividuals that share the same name.
In addition to her interest in individuality, Withstandley is invested in changing the way galleries are typically used and perceived.
In 1998, Withstandley co-founded a not-for-profit art space called Locust Projects in Miami in order to give artists the freedom to experiment without the pressure of gallery sales or restraints of normal gallery spaces. And she is also excited about the Electronic 4Culture gallery where she will be showing her work because she believes that the outdoor venue is changing the way people view art.
“This venue takes away the wall between a gallery space and a public space,” Withstandley said. “I’m very interested in that. This is how we break out of this little gallery space and make viewing art more inviting.”