See you on the other side…
There’s often even an incongruous notion to Steele’s art, borne by the varied locations which become the residence of her works as her installations travel the world. New and contrasting environments recreate the meaning, interpretation, and relevance of each piece. This particular work, See you on the other side…, has seen locations the world over: born atop a reflecting pool in the center of a nature conservancy nestled in the rolling hills of Nashville, Tennessee, it then moved on to the riverbanks in Berlin, atop a skyscraper overlooking the skyline of Frankfurt, and finally landed above a pool of water in a private residence in Beirut, Lebanon. We saw the bare neon statement See you on the other side... installed on the stone wall guiding Berlin's river Spree, fronting one of the oldest cemeteries for invalides in Berlin. The natural stone riverbank sits in stark contrast to the heavily grafittied wall that lines the cemetery, already setting the stage for a classic irony that shines through many of Steele’s installations. This piece embodies her usual, thoughtful signature of layered meaning. There’s the obvious interpretation depicted through this statement, giving prominence to the trans‐formation that death imparts on us all, where our human expression of consciousness would pass to the other side of light, the other side of life which death provides.
The emotionally-charged history of the Berlin Wall that once ran through this cemetery, separating lives and worlds, gives a contrasting meaning to her message through location. Written in the foreground of a cemetery built to commemorate the German liberation wars from 1813 to 1815, the setting is a space dedicated to the loss of life en‐masse and intended… a place where soldiers’ awareness of their impending death may well have made light of the inevitable with exactly such an expression as what stands in this neon today.
Steele’s light, lyrical, or whimsical statements often have a pinpointed accuracy in her ability to cut through to a person’s most natural gentle response to what life would bring in such a moment in time that her work describes.
The See you on the other side… installation has an even more personal element to its creation in that the handwritten script is that of Olivia’s father, the man who imparted the wisdom and beauty of life and its simple idioms to her throughout her early years, and taught her to look for the deeper meaning of life and its complexity. If See you on the other side… was in its simplest form, a statement of a certain energy and connection between two people, this work would represent for Steele her father’s feeling of letting go of a daughter determined to self discover and express her creative agenda in the world for people to muse, marvel, or (mis)interpret.