Opening reception June 19, 6 - 8pm
Summer gallery hours: Monday - Friday, 11am - 6pm
Images from top, L-R: Ruth Gibson and Bruno Martelli (igloo), New Forest 4 (detail), 2008; Lee Boroson, Mohawk Valley Scenery (near Waterford) 10-2, 2008; Kim Keever, Turtle Skull Rock, 2001; Alyson Shotz, Hyperbolic Red Hook, 2005-2006; Jacco Olivier, Wood, 2007; Peter Rostovsky, Epiphany Model: Photographer II, 2008; Steve Robinson, Ryoan-Ji 01, 2008; Ricardo Cuevas, Fear No Thunder, Nor Lightning, 2006.
Landscapes for Frankenstein
Sara Meltzer Gallery is pleased to present Landscapes for Frankenstein, a group exhibition curated by Rachel Gugelberger and Jeffrey Walkowiak.
Written during the early phase of the Industrial Revolution, Mary Shelley's legendary Frankenstein is widely heralded as an allegory that warned against the destructive consequences of man's knowledge. At the center of Shelley's creation myth is Victor Frankenstein, who, horrified by the monstrosity he has created, wanders the globe in remorse. In turn, the nameless monster (known as "Frankenstein" in modern popular culture) travels in search of his creator and a cure for the abjection, alienation and loneliness that has been bestowed upon him. This haunting tale of twin travels reveals not only the destructive potential of man, but also the grandeur of nature -- how it awes the mind, relieves the soul, overwhelms the senses and affects the emotions.
While the natural world is the parallel to the realm of the artificial, these two sides of reality stand in direct conflict. Imagining an appropriate world for the lonely, nameless creature, Landscapes for Frankenstein explores the idea of landscape as a social construction, informed by art history, literature, the media and the human imagination. Whether taking man's potential for destruction or the tradition of Romantic landscape painting as a point of departure, the artists in Landscapes for Frankenstein transform already-mediated images of natural landscapes into works of photography, painting, sculpture, collage, video and installation that acknowledge their own contrivance and conceptual artifice. Like the Frankenstein monster, natural landscapes are manipulated by man; encompassing the meaningful deformities and defects that only humans could create.
Peter Rostovsky focuses on past and present symbols of optimism and aspirations in renditions of exhausted artistic genres. In his Epiphany Model series, loosely based on the work of Caspar David Friedrich, divine beings are replaced by contemporary figures, who stand outside the frame to regard the landscape at the expense of experience. Kim Keever references the Romanticism of the Hudson River School as well as 19th century photography of the American West in painterly photographs that deliberately acknowledge manipulation yet convey a deep understanding of the dynamics of landscape. Keever constructs other-worldly scenes from materials such as plaster, plastic and reflective mylar, all submerged in tanks of water that allow the artist to control the setting's "natural" elements. Lee Boroson conflates the sublime horizons of Hudson Valley landscape paintings with images of large mountains of discarded rubber tires, imbuing the serene landscapes of Upstate New York with the unforgiving traces of man's presence.
In works that incorporate environmental issues and science, Alyson Shotz's focal interest is in space, light and perception. Her hyperbolic topographical landscapes explore the multidimensionality of a site that can be mapped by mathematics but is not evident to the human eye. Ruth Gibson and Bruno Martelli (igloo) simulate and reconfigure representations of our environment in the form of wall prints, video and performance. In Summerbranch, the collaborative extracts scenery from three-dimensional gaming and in Ghille, they unnervingly intervene in a serene walk through forests. Their exploration of virtual landscapes draws attention to the modifications that nature endures as technology develops. Steve Robinson explores the tension between the anxieties and hope evoked by emerging technology. Documentations of Zen Garden landscapes are filtered through software interpretations and turned into paintings; a process that tests ways of representing technologically informed experience.
Francesca Gabbiani's collages depict moments pregnant with tension, anxiety and desire. Her cinematic landscapes frequently incorporate blazing infernos reminiscent of West Coast wildfires that seduce the viewer into fairy tale-like settings on the verge of travesty. Jacco Oliver combines film and painting to create brief and intimate animations that the artist imagines as views seen from a window. In Wood, the narrative episode spans across a seemingly cohesive collision of nature and industry, images move in and out of abstraction and sounds dissolve into each other.
Sarah Cain examines the tension between the natural world and the man-made employing abstraction as a mode of representation and expands on the descriptive limits of language to poetically conjure mood and emotion. Incorporating dried leaves as well as photocopies of leaves - some painted black and others in bursts of color - Cain positions her installations in conversation with the architecture and her relationship to the space in a manner that displays minimalist simplicity. Also touching on the elusive nature of language, Ricardo Cuevas challenges the primacy of the visual image. In the video Fear No Thunder, Nor Lightening, Cuevas documents the act of reading aloud as performed by blind people. Shot from above, one views hands reading braile raised over images of various landscapes. The excerpts are taken from the moment in Frankenstein where the monster -- after learning that no "mother language" belongs to him -- crosses through the forest and embarks on his journey, pointing to the inevitable loss associated with our attempts to communicate, no matter how simple the idea.
In conjunction with the exhibition Landscapes for Frankenstein, Sara Meltzer Gallery has organized a series of events:
Wednesday, July 9, 8:30pm
Steve Robinson and Peter Rostovsky present Slow Fade, a looping slideshow and discussion about basic structures of landscape, and how these structures mutate through contemporary forms such as image searching, digital photography, and Hollywood blockbusters.
Thursday, July 17, 8:30pm
A screening of short films recommended by The Center for Land Use Interpretation, that observe the effects of man and technology on the natural landscape.
The participation of Ruth Gibson and Bruno Martelli (igloo) has been made possible in part with assistance from