SaraNoa Mark

My work is deeply impacted by the ancient artifacts at the Oriental Institute, where I worked as a museum guard to support my studio practice. As the museum re-presented the artifacts in preparation for its centennial, I found myself guarding a collection of empty cases. The experience of guarding absence evoked an acute awareness of the artifacts’ presence far from their points of extraction. The armatures are painted the color of the object they were designed to hold -- that of the earth from which the objects were made. Devoid of the physical objects the armatures were designed to support, the installation employs an institutional alphabet to contemplate the absence of objects displaced from their places of origin. The collected armatures were made by the museum preparators at the Oriental Institute to display artifacts.

The collection of sands that have been selected chronicles what remains of the world from the long erosions that have taken place, and that sandy residue is both the ultimate substance of the world and the negation of its luxuriant and multiform appearance.

- Italo Calvino, Collection of Sand

Chicago Artists Coalition is pleased to present Temporarily Removed, a solo exhibition by BOLT Resident, SaraNoa Mark.

Art in its earliest incarnation was painted on and carved into rock, establishing the coexistence of image, meaning and place. The exhibition Temporarily Removed asks what becomes of materials that are extracted from their places of origin.

Landscapes touched by wind and water are worn away over time, carved first with creases and cracks, and ultimately ground into sand, making visible the repeated actions of the elements over expanses of time. Low relief sculptures in the exhibition count time by recreating drawings made on the earth by natural processes in clay.

When a landscape completes this geological journey, stationary stones are transformed into a more restless substance. The color, size, and shape of sand particles are specific to their geographic origins, yet sand is migratory. It rushes down riverbeds and blows in a dusty cloud from the Sahara to the Gulf of Mexico. We travel untold distances to connect with this legacy of stone and water. And at times we reverse this journey, bringing the portable components of these landscapes back as collectors, researchers, miners, and thieves.

Seeking to understand the impulse to collect land, Mark displays an assemblage of sand gathered from around the world, through travel, personal relationships, and Internet commerce. Sand samples are invariably identified by their place of origin, but their ability to be gathered belies a static understanding of object, place, and borders. Mark’s collection presented in ceramic sandboxes is arranged as a borderless geography. Drawing extensively from museum displays —the primary public repositories of relocated objects—repurposed museum materials are used to create much of the work in the exhibition. Museum armatures exhibited alongside the sand collection and low relief sculptures crafted from a recently disassembled museum wall meditate on the absence of displaced objects from their places of origin.


Communal Beach Drawing and Cleaning at the 57th Street Beach
Sunday, March 31, 2019, 11 am – 2 pm

Participants will gather trash and then, together, shape grains of sand into mountains and vast cities, thus creating and destroying forms of monuments within moments.

This event is in partnership with the Alliance for Great Lakes ADOPT-A-BEACH

Using Format