Anita Glesta: Gernika/Guernica

Gernika/Guernica: Desde el cielo hasto el fondo (hell castings from heaven)
A multimedia installation by Anita Glesta
April 12 – May 12
Opening Reception: April 12, 6 – 8pm


White Box proudly presents Gernika/Guernica: Desde El Cielo Hasta El Fondo (Hell Castings from Heaven), a multi-media installation by Anita Glesta.  Through projection, installation, and documentary interviews, Ms. Glesta will create an aural and visual passage, marking the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the Basque town, Gernika. In the juxtaposition of Picasso’s iconic Guernica with the footage of actual accounts of the bombing of that day, Anita Glesta’s work challenges the viewer to question fiction versus reality.

Ms. Glesta’s work, while functioning as public art appears to be testing issues related to today’s art making. With Gernika/Guernica: Desde El Cielo Hasta El Fondo, the artist shares her personal and artistic quest as to what is the meaning of political and other art making and how artists from around the world can today create images when faced with ongoing destruction and devastation images on a daily basis.

On April 26,1937, the world experienced the first airdrop bombing, which many consider to be the harbinger of World War II. Gernika, in the Basque country of Northern Spain, was hit hardest during the Civil War when Franco gave orders for the Germans to airdrop bombs on the village. Not unlike the air strike of the World Trade Center, life in the world was changed. The enormous scale of the tragedy of this event inspired Picasso to create a work that pays tribute to the catastrophe, and which we now regard as one of the most important works of 20th century political art, Guernica.

Gernika/Guernica: Desde El Cielo Hasta El Fondo focuses on the town of Gernika as a poignant and relevant place to consider in this critical time in our own history. In the weeks following 9/11, Ms. Glesta was invited to sit amongst the New York architects and urban planners to help develop guidelines for the future of the site. Unsettled by the lack of interest in looking elsewhere, both at history and at our contemporary world as a resource for other experiences of devastation the artist asked herself “How have other cities and villages in the world reconstructed their streets, their buildings, and their lives?”  And mostly, how do people reconstruct their lives as well as their emotional selves?  With Gernika/Guernica: Desde El Cielo Hasta El Fondo Ms. Glesta has embarked in a 5-year effort to find answers to these questions.

Public Art Installation of Gernika/Guernica continues this June at Chase Manhattan Plaza, presented by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Anita Glesta’s work has been exhibited extensively in New York City, beginning in 1984 with her solo show at White Columns Gallery. Her work has been shown at Sculpture Center, the Queens Museum, Brooklyn Museum and galleries in NYC prior to moving to Sydney in 1994.  Since her return to NYC in 2000, Glesta has created site-specific works in NYC and throughout Europe and Australia.  She is currently commissioned to create a permanent outdoor integrated landscape sculpture for the Federal Census Bureau Building in Washington DC through the General Services Administration Excellence in Art and Architecture program.

As an artist in the public realm Anita Glesta has worked on several large-scale international projects. Among these projects is a three-acre park in the center of downtown Sydney, which was completed in 2000 created in collaboration with a team of landscape architects. This permanent park is known as the Yurong Water Gardens of Cook and Phillip Park. Sydney City Council granted the commission.

Other environmental commissions have included works for two botanic gardens in Sydney, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Mount Annan Botanic Gardens, 1997 and 1999 respectively.  She has been the recipient of two Pollock/Krasner awards as well as a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in the category of Architecture and Environmental Structures in 2002.  The project Gernika/Guernica (Desde El Cielo Hasta El Fondo) has received fiscal sponsorship from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a New York State Council for the Arts grant for the project.