There is one battle, and it is epic. It is the only battle there has ever been; it is the only battle there ever will be. It has consumed every last human being that has ever lived; it is the battle between Order and Chaos.
Grounded in faith, it is a holy war. Yes, it is the fight for everything we believe in; the fight for everything we are; the fight for a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Humans naturally side with order, likening it to survival, yearning for predictability and control. Over the millennia, we have come up with a range of ammunition against the great Evil, the great Darkness – the Chaos. Politics, alien abductions, savings accounts, religion, environmental protection, space shuttle expeditions, hollywood fame, nuclear bombs – it is a seemingly never-ending roster of human creations, ideas, practices and bad habits that, in essence, address this single and only conflict, attempting to construct a semblance of permanent order, to grasp some comfort and stability amidst the chaos.
THINGS FALL APART, curated by American photographer and pool gallery artist Amy Stein, presents us with a wise, yet rather distressing, understanding. It is a coming to terms with our collective sentence, the hand we, humans, were dealt; it is the realization that, at the end of the proverbial day, the chaos prevails.
Stein has selected the works of seven American female photographers; works that approach this grand conflict from a humanistic and personal standpoint. These artists dissect the human desire to construct our systems of order, and accentuate the inevitable disillusionment when those very systems collapse. The works are more than a record of decay – they are, rather, an examination of loss, as the transition from the ephemeral to the immutable reveals a cruel affirmation of our temporal existence.
This selection of works simultaneously tells one story: the story of any one life. Lisa Kereszi's works serve to highlight the beginning, the plan-making that excites us in our naive youth and adolescence; Stacy Mehrfar continues from there, capturing the foundation-laying and construction of our aspirations; Amy Stein's own works capture that dreaded moment, that turning point, when chaos first comes calling, casting our plans off course; the descent from thereon is slow and spiked with flusters, trips and falls apart – a process illustrated by the works of Justine Reyes, Juliana Beasley and Zoe Strauss; and finally, Robin Schwartz' Dead Deer is the summation of the grand arc, a totem for the constant cycle of dissolution and change in the natural world.
Structuring all facets of our existence is an effort that requires trust in these structures' continuation; this trust forms the foundation of faith. This faith surpasses religious faith; it is the faith that every human being requires to go on living, the most basic and inherent faith – the faith that what we're doing, what we are, is not for nothing. It is the faith that gives us the stamina to go on fighting against the Chaos.
THINGS FALL APART is Amy Stein's first curatorial project at pool gallery, where her work has been exhibited since 2008. She lives and works in New York, NY.