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In Austin exhibit, viewers immerse themselves in foam, light and sound

Video produced by Chelsea Hernandez.

In Austin, 14 artists have come together to offer an immersive art experience with Strange Pilgrims, a large-scale group exhibition with experiential art at multiple venues.

Experiential art is “immersive, collaborative, performative, kinetic and sometimes participatory,” exhibition curator Heather Pesanti said. “It’s essentially things that you experience with your body and your senses.”

The exhibition features a combination of newly commissioned works, site-specific refabrications, and existing works from an international lineup of artists including Charles Atlas, Ayşe Erkmen and Sofía Táboas. The exhibit’s name and theme was inspired by Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez’s story collection, entitled “Strange Pilgrims.” Pesanti interpreted Márquez’s wandering protagonist as a metaphor for an open-ended journey through strange and unfamiliar spaces.

The artists who participated use a wide variety of mediums. Roger Hiorns’ installation “A Retrospective View of the Pathway” features a giant mass of foam that bubbles onto the lawn at the Laguna Gloria every Saturday afternoon.

Ayşe Erkmen’s fabric installation “3DN” incorporates figures that evoke the bats that live under the Congress Avenue Bridge and form the world’s largest urban bat colony. Their nightly emergence is a famous attraction in Austin. “The title of the show is ‘Strange Pilgrims,’ so it all came together, because … bats are the strange pilgrims of Austin,” she said.

The exhibit is on view until Jan. 24, 2016, at the Jones Center, Laguna Gloria and the Visual Arts Center in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin.

Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

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