FOR THOSE WHO HAVE SEEN THE ELEPHANT

THANK YOU FOR SIGNING UP FOR

SMALL OPENINGS

PRIVATE APPOINTMENTS TO EXPERIENCE

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE SEEN THE ELEPHANT

&

THE INSCAPE BUILDING

“The main question that For Those Who Have Seen the Elephant asks is: What does it mean that our joy has to come at the expense of another’s suffering? The beauty of a billowing piece of cloth or an explosion of colored light is rife with association and history, just like the building we stand in or the ground that the building is erected on.”

 

from “Emily Tanner-McLean @ Inscape” by Casey Arguelles Gregory, THE EYE, August 31, 2020

For Those Who Have Seen the Elephant is a 16’ x 20’ x 11’ multimedia installation built and shared as part of my artist residency at Inscape Arts & Cultural Center (February - August 2020). This installation filled a dark room with large U.S. flags sewn from sheer fabric, assembled in a maze-like formation. Projections of fireworks drench this maze, ricocheting off the various surfaces. Accompanying these bursts of illuminated color are sounds that oscillate between celebration and threat. 

 

Located in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, the Inscape Arts & Cultural Center building was erected in 1932 as a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Station and Assay Office, or the INS building. Up until 2004, this beautiful, historic edifice carried out a bipolar legacy bearing the triumphs of those who became citizens and the tribulations of those who did not, the joys and the sorrows of seeking a place in the United States. Today, in addition to hosting an artist residency program, Inscape provides affordable spaces to artists, nonprofits, and small businesses as the largest arts enclave in Seattle. 

 

I began my residency just before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world and shut down the country. I spent the spring sewing 5’ x 8’ flags in isolation while bearing witness to failed leadership and the catastrophes born from a lack of social safety nets and equity — a failing that could have saved tens of thousands of lives. I came to refer to the flags as both “ghosts” and “chants”— the ghosts of a nation’s sins that haunt until there is healing, and chants repeated as a form of clearing, stripped down to the point of transparency or vulnerability on the path toward something greater. 

In coordination with Inscape and Washington State's "Safe Start" guidelines for reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, I shared For Those Who Have Seen the Elephant with the public through private appointments that included a safe, self-guided, interactive audio tour I created to convey the history of the building, and connect its past to the installation and our present moment as a nation.

PRESS

“The main question that For Those Who Have Seen the Elephant asks is: What does it mean that our joy has to come at the expense of another’s suffering? The beauty of a billowing piece of cloth or an explosion of colored light is rife with association and history, just like the building we stand in or the ground that the building is erected on.”

 

from “Emily Tanner-McLean @ Inscape” by Casey Arguelles Gregory, THE EYE, August 31, 2020

 

“Emily Tanner-McLean did not have our recent protests in mind when she began working on her immersive and explosive installation, For Those Who Have Seen the Elephant, at Inscape Arts earlier this year. Still, the installation fits our current moment.”

 

—from “Currently Hanging: Emily Tanner-McLean's ‘For Those Who Have Seen the Elephant’ at Inscape Arts” by Jasyme Keimig, The Stranger, August 25, 2020

 

“How does an individual examine the depth, authenticity, and complexity of reality through artistic expression? Seattle-based interdisciplinary artist Emily Tanner-McLean has toyed with this existential question for some time…Through her immersive works, she invites viewers to contemplate new perspectives by creating physical spaces which upend what we know to be our world.”

 

—from “Emily Tanner-McLean Artist Interview: The Immersive Aesthetics of Discomfort”

by Sumeya Block and Vivian Hua, REDEFINE magazine, August 6, 2020

In compliance with

Phase 2 COVID-19

prevention

protocol

1. VIEWINGS FOR UP TO 4 PEOPLE

2. SELF-GUIDED AUDIO TOUR 

3. REFRESHMENTS + CHAT IN COURTYARD

AUDIO TOUR

The Inscape building is a hallow place with a history worth meditating on. There are excellent didactics throughout the building that share information about the many decades it operated as an Immigration and Naturalization Assay Office that I encourage visitors to read on their own time. This self-guided audio tour endeavors to inform participants about the building through different means. 

As a reminder, please be respectful of the building tenants and aware of your movements as we try to share this art experience safely. 

NOTE: The audio tour requests that participants walk up and down stairs. An alternative tour that incorporates the building's elevator is available upon request.  

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