The Venetians-Josh Mosley and Odili Donald Odita


Two Philadelphia artists are in the Venice Bienale which opens in June. Awesome!! New Philadelphia arrival Odili Donald Odita, painter and recent Tyler faculty hire, and Joshua Mosley, clay and digital animation wizard and Penn faculty are the honored two. Congratulations to both!!

Joshua Mosley
I got a note from Mosley recently. The artist has been in Rome all year on fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. He said his work will be in the International show installed in two rooms of the Italian Pavilion. Mosley’s project is called Dread, and it’s five bronzes and a six-minute animation projection.

Joshua Mosley
Anthia, from Dread, 2007 – Mixed Media Animation, 6 minutes, and five bronze sculptures. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The project is a fictional animated walk in the woods taken by two French philosophers, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) and Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). The two thinkers have incompatible philosophies and as they talk they go deeper into the woods and deeper into irreconcilable differences.

I live with a philosopher but he’s out of town at the moment and since I can’t say I’ve ever read any Pascal or Rousseau I asked Max, who’s studied philosophy. He told me about Pascal’s Wager: Given that you don’t know whether God exists you should lead your life as a Christian anyway and if there is a heaven you’re in. Here’s Pascal’s texts online.

Because of many French classes I know Rousseau was about human freedom and the rights of man and that his thoughts influenced the French Revolution. Somehow I think he was not as tamped down and conservative as Pascal. So we will imagine a God-fearing Christian and a Secular Humanist in the woods — and that is scary enough to begin with. The pairing of philosophers has great resonance with discussions today and the clash of ideologies that has brought the world to the brink.

Dread, by the way, is the name of the dog character in Mosley’s piece (there is also a cow character). Dread was also the name of the dog in one of Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic motion studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mosley has been working on the ideas in Dread for some time. Here’s my short Q&A with Mosley that ran in the Weekly in 2005.

The backgrounds in the animations, says Mosley, are versions of six digital photographs, translated from color to black and white and digitally altered. The clay and resin figures were 3D scanned for the animation.

And with Mosley, music is always big. Here’s what he said: “I composed the music, it’s orchestral (sort of like an extended jazz ensemble) – but has parts for gamba and harpsichord that I worked on here in Italy.. The people speak gamba..”

Mosley said he’ll be back in Philadelphia in August and that he hopes to show the piece in Philadelphia next year.

Odili Donald Odita

Odili Donald Odita, Open Sky, 2007. acrylic on canvas. 60 x 80 inches
Odili Donald Odita, Open Sky, 2007. acrylic on canvas. 60 x 80 inches

I heard about Odita’s inclusion in the Bienale a few months back and recently was reminded of that fact by Locks Gallery’s Doug Schaller when he wrote to tell me about the gallery’s Post Painterly Abstraction show, in which Odita’s work is included. This is Odita’s first exhibit in Philadelphia, Schaller believes. Others in the show are Stuart Netsky, David Row, Polly Apfelbaum, Paul Feeley (early work), Andy Collins, Judy Chicago (early work), Edna Andrade (early work).


joshua mosley, locks gallery, odili donald odita, venice bienale



Sign up to receive Artblog’s weekly newsletter and updates sent directly to your inbox.

Subscribe Today!