Who is Lula Chamberlin?
A quiet member of the avant-garde scene in the 1960’s, Lula Chamberlain’s identity was practically unknown until a group of gamers decided to incorporate the works of the late Chamberlain into their video game. The video game features three players: Ben, Bob, and Emily, who the player follows around a virtual Lula Chamberlain retrospect. By choosing various dialogue options, the player navigates through the gallery, actively observing and discussing the artwork featured in the retrospective.
Though the videogame mimics a real-life gallery experience Lee Tusman thought he would take it a step further by bringing virtual reality into reality at Kensington’s Little Berlin Gallery. “About a year ago I learned about the video game Kentucky Route Zero, and the designers of that game made a game called Limits and Demonstrations,” Tusman explains, “It’s about an artist that there is very little information on and an artist that demands greater recognition. It was really exciting that her work was being exposed to gamers, but it wasn’t being exposed to the art world and I decided to correct that and make Chamberlain’s work more accessible”
The exhibition, appropriately titled after the game, Limits and Demonstrations: A Lula Chamberlain Retrospective, at Little Berlin brings Chamberlain’s work to life.
Here’s how it works: Visitors enter the gallery sit in front of a giant screen and, essentially, play the game. What their characters see is what the gallery attendees see. As they approach the first instillation gallery goers are directed by Tusman to view the piece outside of the game to their right. For the fourth and final instillation, Overdubbed Nam June Paik installation, in the style of Edward Packer, participants leave their seats and get the chance to hear Chamberlin’s voice. The instillation’s space is inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased De Kooning Drawing and consists of an overdubbed cassette tape originally created by, the father of video art, Nam June Paik.
Chamberlain was a contemporary of the world-renounced artists like John Cage and Nam June Paik, yet her name is rarely recognized. “She lived most of her life in Mexico, she was only very briefly in New York City and it’s for that reason that there is almost nothing written about her, it might also be because she’s female, and because she was working in an area that doesn’t receive a lot of recognition, and her art work was really hard to exhibit.” As the video game demonstrates, in their ideal forms, Chamberlain’s works would have been very difficult to display based on sheer scale and the power they required.
The exhibition ends this week, so catch Chamberlin’s work while you can at Little Berlin and decide for yourself whether Lula Chamberlin is an artist you should know.
Amanda V. Wagner is a fourth year English Major at Drexel University. All articles provided by the Center for Cultural Outreach from the Pennoni Honors College at Drexel University.
Images courtesy of Little Berlin.