Silver construct in a jet-black space gives the visitor the sense they are viewing in black and white, transporting the viewer into a surreal tiny universe

Avantika Bawa: Constructing Darkness

AGENDA announces its fourth exhibition, Avantika Bawa: “Constructing Darkness” from February 27 – March 27, 2021

Born of pandemic challenges and creative necessity, Avantika Bawa and AGENDA have collaborated to enable this monumental artist to continue working in an imaginative and completely unprecedented way. Bawa and curator Jamie Wilson met at AGENDA’s inaugural opening in October of 2020. AGENDA’s space is small and lends itself to installation, but would it be possible to exhibit the work of Avantika Bawa in a meaningful way? Bawa asked “What if we painted the whole gallery black?” and the brainstorming began. What resulted is this exploration and response to the quiet and intimate architecture of AGENDA.

Constructing Darkness is the fifth of the ‘Scaffold Series’ by Avantika Bawa. In this site-specific installation, utilitarian structures are transformed into objects of beauty by their altering color and formation in response to site. By so doing they cease to be objects of function and become instead visual representations of planning and possibility represented in small-scale sculpture.

Earlier iterations of this series were exhibited in Mumbai, India (Another Documentation, 2012), Astoria, OR (Mineral Spirits, 2016), Gujarat, India (A Pink Scaffold in the Rann, 2019-20) and most recently in Eugene, OR (#FFFFFF, 2020).

Collectively, the ‘Scaffold Series’ has enabled Bawa to explore the endless possibilities of a single structure by pushing permutations and combinations of color, form and scale in relation to location. While responding to the topography and geography of each site as well as limitations posed by the pandemic, a new iteration of the series is manifested. Bawa intends to expand upon this small-scale series by exploring new terrain and different ways of configuring these installations. Bawa wishes to acknowledge Noah Mattuecci, who inspired and managed the printing and production of the miniature scaffolds, without whom the miniature series would not exist.



A video still with layered images of a woman dancing. The image has high contrast and pixelated swaths of color in the background.

IGNITE!: Fernanda D’Agostino and Sarah Turner

Astoria Visual Arts welcomes Portland’s Mobile Projection Unit for IGNITE!, an evening of mega light installations and sound spatialization throughout Astoria on Saturday, January 9, beginning at 7:00pm.

The Mobile Projection Unit (MPU) is a roving media studio that presents new, experimental, site specific outdoor projected video installations.

Founded in 2018, MPU is the brainchild of Fernanda D’Agostino and Sarah Turner, and has produced many massive light installations including for the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art for TBA2020, the Virtual Venice Biennale Film Festival, and the Portland International Film Festival, including site specific installations on the Burnside Bridge, the Portland Art Museum and many others.

MPU co-founder Fernanda D’Agostino’s installations incorporate sculpture, interactive video, projection mapping and sound in novel ways. She’s the recipient of a Bronson Fellowship, Flintridge Foundation Fellowship, and grants from the NEA, Precipice Fund and Ford Family Foundation. Notable exhibitions include Festival de la Imagin, Columbia SA; SoundWave Biennial, San Francisco; 1A Space, Hong Kong; CyberFest, St Petersburg; Video Guerillha, Sao Paolo; Suyama Space, Seattle; and Fuori Festival, Italy.

About bringing her art to Astoria, D’Agostino says, “It was a special challenge and joy for me to create a new digital platform, The Liminal Performance Space, that would allow the collaboration that is at the heart of our practice to continue despite the restrictions imposed by COVID. Introducing new collaborators like Astoria’s Sparrow Dance Company to the transformations that live video coding permits is always a thrill. It was wonderful to see how they immediately grasped the potential of this new medium to create work that beautifully embodies the concepts driving ‘Sea Creatures.'”

“Sea Creatures,” the title of one of MPU’s four planned installations for IGNITE!, was conceived as an investigation of the ocean’s transformational power and its age-old position in myth and cosmology in every culture. Each of the installations investigates a different mood or aspect of water and how it pervades our consciousness, our mythologies, and our rituals of health and healing. Working remotely with both local dance group Sparrow Dance Company and with diverse collaborators from Portland and Japan, MPU used digital programming to allow performers to embody the reality that in our essence we are all “sea creatures.” Other collaborators include the Kusanagi Sisters, Jaleesa Johnston and Sophia Wright Emigh, Sahra Brahim and Yaara Valey.

“I’m excited to bring our new work to Astoria to enlighten the city during a particularly dark time of the year,” says MPU co-founder Sarah Turner, “Debuting right next to the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, many of the themes of the piece may awaken the next time you stare into the water at your own reflection. Sea Creatures delves into our subconscious realms, right below the surface, to unearth new realities in the wake of this year that dredged up so many possibilities.” Turner’s immersive installations often explore the depths and artistic capabilities of curatorial collaborations, experimentation with technology, and community building. She is the artistic director of Pink noise and along with the list of MPU productions, her credentials also include productions for the Northwest Film Center, Spaceness Festival, and Marfa Open Festival.

Joining the MPU cast for IGNITE! is Crystal Cortez, a composer, creative coder, professor and creative producer based in Portland, Oregon. Under her performance moniker Crystal Quartez she weaves field recordings, synthesis, self-made electronics, and multi-channel sound spatialization to produce complex sonic realms. Her work often blends sound with interactive tech and performance art to produce atmospheres for deconstruction, release and rebuilding. Her practice has recently explored the development of interactive sculptural interfaces and wearable technology that use movement and sensor data to free the performer from their equipment. Her art has been shown at PNCA, Disjecta, PICA, Navel (LA) and more.

How to attend: Installation map coming to this page soon. You may also pick up a map at AVA or numerous galleries participating in Astoria’s Art Walk. All site locations are in downtown Astoria between 10th and 12th Streets. Bundle up, social distance, and wear a mask.

Funding for this project was provided by the Oregon Cultural Trust, Ford Family Foundation, and the City of Astoria. Supporters also include Hipfish Monthly, the Astoria Institute of Music and Center for the Arts, the Liberty Theater, and the Labor Temple.