Review: Next stop: 'Seagull'

By Doug Norris/Arts & Living Editor
Friday, February 1, 2008

By Doug Norris/Arts & Living Editor
WEST KINGSTON - Whimsical and fanciful, the gold sea gull stirring its wings inside a bay window at Kingston Train Station brings 4 minutes of surrealist fantasy to the mundane limbo of waiting for the train.

The video by Czech artist Pavel Mrkus, with music composed and played by Aziza Sadikova, tells a wordless story about a sculpted decoration that suddenly comes to life, Pinocchio-style. Mrkus, a former visiting professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, uses 3D animation to take us on a journey of awakening and curiosity, one that sparks the universal, instinctual urge for freedom.

The golden flying sea gull, once released from its baroque architecture, gracefully explores an exquisite interior full of mirrors, chandeliers, gold and silver trimmings and ornate features, including sun symbols. The video is playful and inventive in the way images reflect off of one another, turning the building into a kind of albatrosses' Wonderland, where the gull at first engages its newfound inquisitiveness. But as pretty as it is inside, the gull becomes increasingly determined to get out, to escape its confinement and discover what lies beyond the boundaries of its former existence. In this way, "Seagull" appears as a visual fable, serving as a metaphor for the Czech people in the era of the Iron Curtain, while posing the paradox of its gilded cage.

"Seagull," by Pavel Mrkus from the Czech Republic, is on display in a bay window in the Amtrak waiting room at Kingston Train Station. Curated by Viera Levitt of Wakefield, the installation combines a romanticized historical interior with a 3D animation of a flying golden sea gull. It's part of a larger exhibition of Central European video art titled "Close Encounters," on view through Feb. 10 at the University of Rhode Island.

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