Artist Mary Walling Blackburn was invited by the gallery to continue her research into extraterrestrial encounters, seeking narratives produced to understand how we position ourselves in relationship to the Other, the alien, the stranger, the unknown. With past research and collecting of narratives in Turkey and France, Blackburn conducted a month long residency in San Diego to collect extraterrestrial encounter stories along the U.S./Mexico border. Blackburn produced a video from this work that was shown as part of the exhibition, along with videos documenting her previous research on the topic. From the stories she collected locally, she selected one that was told by a Mexican illegal border crosser of his alien encounter and from this story created a large-scale mural for the gallery that contained the elements of his story. Additionally, a mirrored reversed mural was created on an abandoned stretch of road outside Jacumba in the approximate area where the encounter originally took place. The gallery installation contained a low rumble sound element, an altered seismographic sound recording obtained from Scripps Institute specifically for the project, underscoring the central element of the mysterious and unknown. A publication, titled The Extra Earth Analog, co-edited by the artist as an A-Z compendium of reflections on the extraterrestrial or the stranger accompanied the exhibition. Copies of the publication were available for free to visitors in the gallery in a separate reading area with additional source materials on various topics of the artist’s research.
My Strangest Stranger March 13th – May 9th 2014