Melissa McGill
Red Regatta: riflessi

TOTAH, New York / USA

January 16–March 1, 2020
January 15, 2020
Opening: January 16, 6–8pm

183 Stanton St
New York, NY 10002

T +1 212 582 6111
[email protected]

TOTAH is pleased to present Red Regatta: Riflessi, born out of Melissa McGill’s recent Venice-based public art project Red Regatta. McGill’s photographs will be on view January 16 through March 1, 2020. This is the artist's first solo exhibition with the gallery. 

Over the years Melissa McGill has developed a profound personal relationship with the city of Venice. Having lived there in the early 90s, she has continued to be engaged with the city, returning often for inspiration, research, friendships, and artistic collaboration.

A celebration of Venice's maritime culture and history, her 2019 project, Red Regatta, aimed at raising awareness around the threats that face Venice’s fragile ecosystem. These threats are only exacerbated by the impact of cruise ships, motor boats, rising sea levels, and a shrinking local population. As a series of four sitespecific performances, Red Regatta periodically set sail across Venice’s lagoon and canals from the early summer through early fall of that year. 

These traditional Venetian sailboats prominently featured hand-painted red sails in one of 52 different shades: a different tone for each boat. Set against the sky, sea, and cityscape, the reds referenced forces of life and passion, alarm and urgency, and Venice itself—from its bricks and terracotta rooftops, to its flag and history of trade, to paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and other Venetian masters. This unprecedented site-specific performative work was a collaboration with Associazione Vela al Terzo Venezia, curated by Chiara Spangaro, with project manager Marcella Ferrari, and co-organized by Magazzino Italian Art Foundation.

For her current exhibition at TOTAH, McGill has captured the reflections of these sails as they fleeted together across the Venetian lagoon. The salient aspect of each photo lies in the nuanced quality of its red colorations. In some photos, this red seems to saturate the water. In others, redness seems overlayed onto the water’s surface—although there was no extraneous intervention on the part of the artist. Just as each boat glided over Venice’s lagoon, McGill’s photos echo the buoyancy of water. Infused with a meditative aura, Red Regatta: Riflessi realizes an immersive installation that environs viewers in Venice’s lagoon, bathing in the afterglow of the Red Regatta. 

Melissa McGill, (born in Rhode Island, 1969) is an interdisciplinary artist who creates large-scale, site-specific art projects and works in a variety of media, including photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, sound, light and immersive installation. Her works connect viewers to overlooked histories and traditions, exploring the conversation between the visible and invisible, heightening awareness of our surroundings. McGill has been exhibiting her artwork nationally and internationally since 1991, including solo exhibitions at The Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations; White Cube, London; Power House, Memphis; Palazzo Capello, Venice; and CRG Gallery, New York. She is a graduate of The Rhode Island School of Design. She lives and works in Beacon, New York.

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