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Intriguing multi-media exhibit from Remo Campopoanpo


List Visual Arts Center,

Wiesner Building E15.

Continues through November 19.


RODENTS, ANTS, AND FISH. It seems unlikely that these creatures would actually be inside art, but in Remo Campopiano's exhibit at the List Visual Arts Center, they literally live and form an integral part of this work based on the four axes of the Native American medicine wheel.

By combining concepts of myth and thought with natural ecosystems, Minneapolis-based artist Remo Campopiano has produced an effect which is both startling and intriguing. The animals in motion contrast the snowy non-living styrofoam mountains, and black boxes symbolizing mystery hang ominously from the ceiling. At the center of the room, one can hardly miss feeling like a demi-god when viewing the half-dome colony of California harvester ants forming their own sculptures out of jam and sand.

The room itself is divided into four themes to reflect the four axes of the Native American medicine wheel. At the entrance (the south), one experiences birth and childhood with the high chair and several blue twisted wires, representing perhaps neurons or perhaps electricity, the primal source of life. To the west, emotions, feelings, matters of the heart, and ideas like sex and death, are explored in a teeming bedframe of rats. A red liquid representing blood boils above and after being converted into life-sustaining water, drips leisurely onto the bed. The fetid smell is minimally awful.

From the bed the rodents have passage to the top of the styrofoam mountains, re-enacting a Native American story of a near-sighted mouse who climbed a mountain to gain wisdom, the polar opposite of innocence. A mesh totem pole, located to the north, enables observers to witness the historic climb.

To the east, ten tall glass tubes of tropical fish, arranged to be the highly sophisticated right and left hemispheres of the brain, represent intelligence, thought, and matters of the mind. Unifying the four zones, a model train travels in a circular path, triggering red laser lights.

Overall, the combination of ideas leaves one mesmerized, fixated in some strange mixture of life and mysticism. The division between life and art becomes more obscure.