In a Name … 

Friday, April 9 - Wednesday, April 28

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“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet,” Juliet says in act II of William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, a line that has been quoted on more occasions than most of the Bard’s iconic phrases. But hard-hitting theorists and philosophers have also cited this rhetorical pondering of love by Juliet to deconstruct the absolute in a single word, or a name. The In a Name … installation at Rio Gallery puts “What’s in a name” to the test, and people’s given names—the ultimate signifier—are once again absolute.

The installation features a series of more than 2,000 Polaroid photos of more than 2,000 faces. Each photograph is accompanied by a short statement by each individual on a digital recording that plays continuously. The audio recordings are as fascinating as the faces, as each subject tells of specific meanings, special significance and sentimental associations that their names have for them. Decidedly, there is much in a name.

The overriding theme of the exhibition is the use of the signifier—the name—and the demographic complexities implied by it: the sense of history, heritage, family and belonging. In this installation, through seeing the faces and hearing the stories, we realize the overwhelming sense of identity granted by the name, something ultimately as significant as race or ethnicity. Either in challenging post-structuralism or framing national identity, this is not just any other installation.

In a Name … @ Rio Gallery, 300 S. Rio Grande St., 801-533-3582, through April 28. Arts.Utah.gov

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Ehren Clark

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