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Texas State Galleries host Common Experience Exhibition

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Istomina emphasizes textures like stuffing and foam in her sculpture “A prisoner of solitude”.

As part of the 2019 Common Experience, the university is hosting Philosophy of the Encounter (2016-18) created by Tatiana Istomina, inside the Texas State Galleries Aug. 26 through Nov. 12.
According to Texas State Galleries staff, this is the first time where each piece of Istomina’s project is able to be seen together in its entirety.
The multimedia project is comprised of a series of works on paper, a staged puppet performance on video, a complete artist book and a set of sculptures made in collaboration with Canadian artist Mona Sharma.
Istomina is a Russian-born Yale graduate, writer and multimedia artist based in New York. Several of her projects have been featured in exhibitions and galleries worldwide, including the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, The Drawing Center and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.
Her project follows the story of Hélène Rytman, a woman murdered in 1980 by her husband, Louis Althusser. Althusser was a prominent philosopher at the time, with his reputation facing few consequences as his works written before and after Rytman’s seemingly inexplicable murder continue to be published and read.
According to the Istomina, Rytman is widely forgotten and remains an insignificant woman lost in the shadow of her famous husband.
It was from Istomina’s research she found Rytman, a political and communist activist, was likely responsible for her husband’s conversion to Marxism. Rytman provided Althusser with knowledge of political and social reality.
Althusser claims he has no memory of the murdering of his wife. In his memoir, “The Future Lasts Forever,” he describes the history of their relationship pleasantly and leaves Rytman without a voice for her perspective of the story.
Philosophy of the Encounter aims to provide Rytman an opportunity to reclaim her story and platform.
“These works (Philosophy of the Encounter) reconstruct the story from Hélène’s point of view and explore its implication for Althusser’s theory,” Istomina said.
According to desk employees at the gallery, Philosophy of the Encounterhas been popular and well-visited by Texas State students and locals since it opened.
“When I saw this exhibit promoted online, it instantly caught my eye,” studio art junior Alexa Smith said. “The exhibit itself seems so simplistic at first glance, yet the textures and shadows of each sculpture piece bring the room to life.”
Istomina and Sharma combine simple mediums like fabric, staffing and paint to create the sculptures, including “The head of Hélène,” “Torso,” “Philosopher’s Mind,” “A prisoner of solitude” and “Permanently alone and a frightful shrew.”
“My favorite part of the project had to be the video,” international studies sophomore Daniel Martinez said. “It was eerie but made sense after I learned it was about the story of a mysterious murder.”
The video on display features human-like puppets representing Rytman, Althusser and several “allegorical personages.” Istomina and Sharma created the dolls in collaboration, while artist Anna Gregor played the masked puppeteer.
For students interested in learning more about Philosophy of the Encounter, an artist lecture about Tatiana Isomina and her project will be held at 5-6 p.m., Nov. 5, in JCM 2121.
The Texas State Galleries are located on the second floor inside the Joann Cole Mitte building. All galleries are open to the public and free. Philosophy of the Encounter is available to visit in Gallery 1 until Nov. 12.
For more information regarding current exhibits and opportunities at Texas State Galleries, visit txstgalleries.org.

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