This monkey’s gone to heaven

‘Quantum Circus: The Intelligent Design Project’ displays evolution in a side-show

Megan Kadrmas

The most bizarre and mesmerizing piece in “Quantum Circus: The Intelligent Design Project,” an exhibit at Soo VAC is a robotic ape’s head on a potter’s wheel. While the wheel is slowly spinning, the monkey cranes its head, surveying the room. Unexpectedly, it lets out a screech that pierces the normally quiet studio space.

Although this work stands out because it is literally screaming for attention, the whole room is moving with colorful, sometimes disturbing, images of humanity.

A large, plastic grasshopper in a pink tutu greets visitors as they enter the studio. It twirls slowly, like a vertical rotisserie chicken.

The overwhelming nature of “Quantum Circus” is reminiscent of an old-fashioned side car freak show. The artists, Andrea Stanislav and Michael Zansky, combine their unique talents to comment on the bizarre nature of humans.

However, instead of separating the bearded ladies and strong men from the rest of the human race, the entire population is on display in this project.

The darker nature of some of the work, especially the photographs that line one wall of the space, hold a mirror up to society.

The warped black and white images of dictators with their hollow eye sockets spilling out mercury into a stream that flows to the front of the photo, which gathers in pools on top of the photograph, stand out among the other images on the wall. These photographs are disturbing in their vulgarity but effectively portray the freakish reality of human beings.

Everything that is not pinned to a wall in the space is in motion. There is a film included at the back of the studio, which stretches the movement as far as the space will allow.

“It’s a timeline of the history of the human race, from the Bible to the present. Then, it flips around and goes back to the ape again. The ape (in the exhibit) is in the film, along with everything on the wall,” Zansky said.

The title also relates the second theme of the exhibit. The collaboration between Zansky and Stanislav, a University art professor, guides

the audience through the evolutionary process.

The other striking aspect of the exhibit is the seamlessness of the collaboration between Zansky and Stanislav.

Zansky lived and worked in his New York studio while Stanislav taught and created in Minnesota.

The pair had studios in the same building in New York and embarked on a collaboration after they were shocked by the similarities between their current work.

“Oddly enough, the things that I was working on in my studio, mirrored themselves (in Zansky’s work). There was this funny, psychic connection within the same building,” Stanislav said.

“Quantum Circus: The Intelligent Design Project”
WHEN: Through Dec. 24
WHERE: Soo VAC visual arts center, 2640 Lyndale Ave. S,
Minneapolis
TICKETS: Free, www.soovac.org

The similarities between their work remained strong after Stanislav moved to Minnesota. They would not see each other’s work again until they started unpacking it at Soo VAC in preparation for the exhibit.

The two artists work together as one – cohesively displaying their take on evolution and mankind.

“(The story is) how we evolved and where we came from in some strange way. (We show) the horror, as well as the horror of things,” Zansky said.