Pittsburgh Current Staff Writer
If you ask Bunker Projects artist-in-residence Amanda Struver if she thinks people are true to themselves, she’ll disagree with you. Her opinion is based on time living in borrowed bedrooms, traveling and taking part in artist residencies.
“You are the product of environments of people that you surround yourself with, or different places that you go, which I have felt for the past year-and-a-half after grad school,” she says.
Struver examines this potential for transformation in “Cerberus Milk,” which runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 13 at Bunker Projects in Bloomfield. Here, sculptures and performances tell the story of Shimmer, a version of Struver that lives on the Internet, performing pop songs of hopes, dreams, love and power. “Cerberus Milk” uses classical and contemporary icons and mythology to look at the possibility of becoming anything.
According to Struver, Shimmer helps symbolize the absurdity of contemporary pop culture.
“Shimmer is this canonized identity, essentially. She isn’t great at what she does, which is the idea, that she’s not actually trying. When I think about her, it is a genuine attempt at something,” Struver says.
Struver’s interest in pop culture stems from growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s, where young people were told that they could be whoever they wanted to be if they tried hard enough, which didn’t take into account socio-economic barriers, according to Struver.
“In the end that goes to pop culture because you see these people who do incredible things, but it’s all kind of filtered through archetypes of being a person. It’s built a narrative of fulfillment or success,” she says.
Struver’s work often blurs the lines between animal, creature, human, mutant and object, and exploring the self as being at a constant state of decay and evolution. That’s also the case with “Cerberus Milk,” according to Struver.
“A lot of my work is about trying to achieve something that we’ve been told that we need to achieve, or a thing that you need to be, which is just commentary on social constructs,” she says. “Then a lot of my work goes out and tries to do that, but actually becomes something else while trying to be something that it’s not. And, in a lot of ways, Shimmer is one small layer of that.”
“Cerberus Milk” features two other shows within the exhibit: “Moth Room,” which combines sculpture, digital renderings, installation, video and audio from 16 participating artists, housed in Bunker’s bedroom space where artists-in-residents sleep, and “Trophy Room,” a mobile project space parked outside of Bunker dedicated to exchanges between emerging artists living and working in non-major cities, featuring two artists’ work in conversation with one another.
Struver says collaboration like this is at the core of her practice.
“You’re not alone shouting into a void. You don’t have to be. Some people choose to and then they work better that way, and I totally respect that. But for me, it’s always been [asking] other people, ‘What are you thinking about? What do you think about this?’” she says.
So, when Struver arrived in Pittsburgh, she asked who was making work and how. Although she was able to compile a group of artists for her show, according to her, she wishes she had more time to delve into the Steel City art scene.
“I don’t think I’ve barely even scratched the surface,” she says.