Beatriz Olabarrieta: Ask the Dust at MCASB

Posted on Dec 11 by SEASONS Magazine

Beatriz Olabarrieta, courtesy photo.

Beatriz Olabarrieta, courtesy photo.

Artist Beatriz Olabarrieta makes U.S. institutional debut at MCASB with Bloom Projects Exhibition Ask the Dust

Exhibition on view through February 3

Artist Talk:  December 12, 6 – 8 p.m. at Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop (CAW), 631 Garden St.

Curator Talk | Alexandra Terry: Ask the Dust: Wednesday, January 9, 6 – 7 p.m. at MCASB, 653 Paseo Nuevo

Beatriz Olabarrieta presents a new commissioned installation revolving around a film work exploring her ongoing interest in writing, drawing, and collaboration with other artists, musicians, and writers as devices to generate performative spaces or situations.

More than a film, this exhibition takes the form of a novel that aims to create a connection between the notion of drawing as writing, or writing as drawing. The title of the exhibition, which in itself references a novel, points to the notion of “asking the dust,” or looking for meaning and understanding not in solid objects, people, or places, but rather in the dust that those things produce and leave behind. By questioning what we are as humans with or without language, Olabarrieta examines the (im)possibility of articulation and the inevitability of the “slippage” of knowledge.

For this project, Olabarrieta collaborated with a musician, a cartoonist, and a writer, whose “voices” act as fictional alter egos of the artist. They are personas, or voices within the artist’s voice, and therefore key agents, or active parts, of the artwork. The inanimate technology that displays the work, the projector and speakers, embodies human characteristics acting as yet another alter ego.

Comprised of seven chapters, Ask the Dust  inhabits a space that shifts and expands as the artwork “grows” within it throughout the duration of the exhibition. At the Opening Reception in November, the first three chapters were released, alongside a commissioned text by writer Bianca Stoppani.

Two more chapters were released December 6 in advance of a performative Artist Talk by Olabarrieta on Wednesday, December 12, at the Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop (CAW). Release dates of the remaining two chapters will be announced at a future date.

Ask the Dust  is the continuation of a series of film works that Olabarrieta has been working on over the past few years, including her durational performance Dumb Bells presented at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 2016.

Following the exhibition at MCASB, Ask the Dust  will continue to unfold as chapters are added to the film work and take on new iterations.

This exhibition is part of MCASB’s Bloom Projects series and is programmed at MCASB’s Main Space location, in the Charles Bloom Foundation Gallery. Bloom Projects features newly commissioned artwork by regional, national, and international emerging or under-recognized artists. Bloom Projects gives contemporary artists whose work has begun to garner significant attention an opportunity to move beyond their studio practice, encouraging experimentation and giving them the resources necessary to further their careers as professional visual artists. For more information, visit


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