November 14, 2010 - Utah Museum of Fine Arts - salt 2: Sophie Whettnall
November 14, 2010

salt 2: Sophie Whettnall

Sophie Whettnall, “Over the Sea,” 2007.

salt 2: Sophie Whettnall
November 18, 2010 – February 27, 2011

The University of Utah
410 Campus Center Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

salt (sôlt)
1. A colorless or white crystalline solid used extensively in ground or granulated form as a food seasoning and preservative.
2. An element that gives flavor or zest.
3. Sharp, lively wit.
4. A mineral sharing definitive characteristics with Utah’s capital city.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) is pleased to present salt 2: Sophie Whettnall, the first solo exhibition in the U.S. by Belgian artist Sophie Whettnall (b. 1973). The second in a new series showcasing work by contemporary artists from around the world, the exhibition will be on view November 18, 2010 – February 27, 2011.

Whettnall, whose artistic practice encompasses photography, video, performance, and installation, began her career as a painter. Even as she turned to video, her work frequently returned to landscape and self-portraiture, genres traditionally aligned with painting. In some ways, she remains a painter, working in an expanded pictorial field that extends to moving images and installations. Whettnall often explores the relationship of the body to its surroundings, using video as a performative space.

salt 2: Sophie Whettnall includes the video installation Waterfall (2008), which at first glance evokes a still photographic image: that of a waterfall frozen into stasis, transformed into an extraordinary ice sculpture. Yet the image is in fact moving—a river flows slowly in the foreground of the picture.

Whettnall will also create a wall drawing that offers a different image of movement and flow—a river rendered in abstracted form. Her drawings often conjure topographical maps, marking elevations and depressions in the land, but they also serve as another kind of map, indexing the artist’s movements.

Whettnall’s video Over the Sea (2007) also traces a performative gesture, following the footsteps of a woman in high heels as she makes her way from a public, urban space to a quiet spot overlooking the sea. At the conclusion of the video, the camera moves quickly between the walker’s heels, to rest on the sight of the ocean, highlighting the female figure as a meeting point between nature and culture, public and private, self and surrounds.

The UMFA’s salt series aims to reflect the international impact of contemporary art today, forging local connections to the global, and bringing new and diverse artwork to the city that shares the program’s name. Affirming the UMFA’s commitment to the art of today and tomorrow, the series demonstrates that contemporary art is dynamic, engaging, and socially relevant.

salt 2: Sophie Whettnall is curated by Jill Dawsey, Acting Chief Curator/Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

Press contact:
Shelbey Peterson, UMFA Public Relations and Marketing Associate,

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Museum hours:
Tuesday – Friday: 10 am – 5 pm; Wednesdays 10 am – 8 pm; Weekends, 11 am – 5 pm; closed Mondays and holidays.

A Conversation with Sophie Whettnall
Thursday, November 18 at 6 pm
UMFA Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke, Jr. Auditorium

*Image above:
Courtesy of the artist.

salt 2: Sophie Whettnall
Utah Museum of Fine Arts
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