February 5 -March 6, 2011
Written by Lisa Di Donato
Curated by Lisa Di Donato and Anna Mogilevsky
WORK Gallery is pleased to host the second installment of Decidedly Ambivalent, a group exhibition curated by Lisa di Donato and Anna Mogilevsky. The exhibition is intentionally limited to artists living or working in urban or suburban locations, and for whom it is natural to envision a future for landscape within an architectural context.
Decidedly Ambivalent explores society’s ambivalent response towards nature, as reflected through its architectural production. At once a necessary shelter from the elements, this edifice of society is shown as a porous boundary with the broader world. This is an interface that is irrevocably mixed in identity, challenging the means by which we define the conditions of our world. In exploring this boundary with the broader ecology, Decidedly Ambivalent seeks to move away from a literal vision towards an understanding of the cultural and epistemological shifts that the boundary engenders. New meaning and orientation is achieved not merely by attempting to define what either is in isolation, but rather through comparison and interaction.
Boundaries, descriptions, and rules shape our landscapes cognitively as much as physically. Carin Mincemoyer transforms a spent strip mine into a sanitized recreational zone, representing manipulations to a landform and the public’s perception of that activity on the land. Drawing comparisons between 19th century English landscape gardening and golf course maintenance, Rob Carter reflects on the irony that our enjoyment of nature is contingent on our ability to subdue it. Anna Mogilevsky depicts a similar desire for experience to be mediated in her eco-tourism fantasy/nightmare, where spectacle blurs and complicates the edges between the built world, society, and nature.
Landscape has an intriguing capability to be contoured by the imagination and emotions projected onto it. Patrick Campbell’s work, involving urban structures arranged with organically evocative elements, is inspired by philosopher’s stones, German Wunderkammer, and contemporary computer games that allow users to inhabit worlds of their own ideation. Sonjie Feliciano-Solomon plans her hand-sewn architectonic sculptures with industrial design software, demonstrating that systematic, computerized tools are well suited towards capturing and representing immaterial natural elements with breathless ephemerality. Outer space, permeated with optimistic possibility, is explored by anthropomorphized architecture of science in Leah Beeferman’s animations. These machines are the new naturalists, their observations not merely data, but evidence of a first hand experience with nature.
Based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s master plan for Usonia, a suburban communal development composed of circular plots of land, Steven Millar’s sculpture shows how ideals often become compromised when confronted by political reality. A memorial for an unrealized vision, the artist describes the landscape as permeable, shifting, and above all human – complex, conflicted, and flawed.