blackbirdonline journalSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3

maybe the sun / we are each other’s atmosphere Suite

     George Ferrandi’s fellow feelings
      Jasmine Dreame Wagner

   To Witness, Honor, and Play
      Jason Anthony

   we are each other’s atmosphere
      Katherine Cooper

   . . . atmosphere Audio & Transcript
      George Ferrandi


Open Source Gallery presents maybe the sun, a multimedia exhibition by George Ferrandi. As we emerge from the pandemic, we are all living with unprocessed grief. We have grafted a thin skin of normalcy over our everyday lives, but our sense of loss continues to lie just below this delicate surface, leaving us less resilient to other challenges.

maybe the sun offers an immersive framework for collective reflection on what we have lost and learned. This exhibition features drawings, sculpture, video and a recurring interactive live event: we are each other’s atmosphere, a collaborative tool for processing our un-commemorated losses and un-celebrated victories. we are each other’s atmosphere evolved from conversations and consultations with grief counselor Shea Wingate, LCSW, and could be described as Mahjong meets guided meditation at a séance.

Guests sign up in advance to participate in this gamified ritual conducted by Ferrandi for small groups. This intimate, interactive experience provides a cathartic structure for collectively orchestrating our conceptions of the pandemic, and reliving—with appropriate fanfare—moments of unseen victories and unrecognized accomplishments.

Drawings from the Receivers series aim to absorb and reflect viewers’ emotional experiences of the pandemic, in the way that objects often act as silent witnesses to our histories and repositories of our resonant moments.

In the video This World, Ferrandi visits the National Aquarium with her ninety-year-old mother. The artist reads lines from a poem by Mary Oliver about the futility of looking for something in the natural world that isn’t special, as her mother struggles to repeat the lines, with her failed attempts demonstrating frustrating, hilarious, and charming truths.
     —Press Release for maybe the sun

Blackbird here includes three prose pieces that will appear in the catalog for maybe the sun.

Jasmine Dreame Wagner’s commentary provides an overview of George Ferrandi’s visual and collaborative/performative work, culminating in maybe the sun and its ritualistic interactive piece titled we are each other’s atmosphere.

James Anthony, in “To Witness, Honor, and Play,” writes about “the intersectional space of art, ritual and formal games” Speaking as a participant in in the ritual he writes: “we are each other’s atmosphere had been phrased to me as a kind of pandemic reckoning. America has done very little in that way, in spite of the lives lost, weddings canceled, careers derailed. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln called for a day of ‘humiliation, prayer and fasting’ to engage with the psychological horror of the Civil War. To this day, the United Kingdom observes two minutes of silence on November 11 to process the victims of the War to End All Wars and those of wars that followed it. Pandemics have no such ritual language  . . . ”

Katherine Cooper finishes out the commentary, writing as someone who had discussed the pandemic, and the role of art in healing, with Ferrandi before later participating iin a session of we are each other’s atmosphere. Opening with the question “What did we lose?” Cooper addresses pandemic losses, post-pandemic friendship, and the artist-brokered exchange with strangers—the power of catharsis and restoration through Ferrandi’s ritualistic art. 

George Ferrandi with her head on a stranger's shoulder in the NY subway


   Contributor’s notes

return to top