(Los Angeles) - Edward Cella Art + Architecture is pleased to announce the gallery’s first solo exhibition of large-scale photography and sculpture by the Los Angeles artist Alex Slade. Since the early 1990s, Slade has used inherent systems and structural processes of photography and sculpture to identify and examine our relationship to various environments and how those environments have been and continue to be transformed by human intervention and time. With an interest in how urbanism, the economy, and eco-industrialization impact the landscape, his sculpture employs complex mapping systems as well as architectural interventions to create an awareness of spatial systems, while his photographic images address issues outside of pure photographic practice. The title of the exhibition: What City Pattern? is taken from a 1956 issue of Architectural Forum in which the authors project what kind of city pattern will be prevalent in 1976. Their optimistic view of a future in which architecture and design solve all of the world’s problems, as well as many of the architectural ideas they presented, are now relegated to history. Slade’s first version of What City Pattern? was exhibited in 2011 at Station, a USC Roski School of Fine Arts photography gallery, and similar to that installation, Slade will include ephemera from this period of architecture and design, as well as materials pertaining to the locations of the exhibited photographs in What City Pattern? (Revision 2).
With today’s ideological construction of “sustainable development,” Slade’s work is a subtle reveal of the environmental, economic, and social implications of corporate capitalism. Slade was recently commissioned to do a series of photographs for the exhibition, The Whole Earth California and the Disappearance of the Outside, which opened this past April at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. The photographs reflect on how the Whole Earth movement of the late sixties/early seventies started by Stewart Brand—a biologist with artistic and social interests committed to thoroughly renovating American industrial society along ecologically and socially just lines—has been subsumed and subverted by that same industrial complex. As Slade puts it, "renewable energy is industrialized and its interest in nature has been bureaucratized." The gallery will exhibit works from this series—all shot on locations in California where industrial sustainability projects (“renewables”) are accompanied by “natural” (man-made) habitat areas or wildlife refuges, like a rattlesnake habitat next to a solar plant in Daggett, or the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge that is part of the CalEnergy Generation geothermal plant in Calipatria.
In addition to the Whole Earth California photographs which will be exhibited in What City Pattern? (Revision 2), Slade will include photographs of abandoned Modernist architecture (usually architect unknown) taken on a recent trip to the Midwestern states of Kansas and Oklahoma. The incentive of this trip sprang from Slade’s having read William Least Heat-Moon’s PrairyErth (A Deep Map): An Epic History of the Tallgrass Prairie Country, an exploration of time and space, landscape and history in the Flint Hills of central Kansas, and having seen Heinz Emigholz’s film Goff in the Desert, about the buildings of architect Bruce Goff whose studio was in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and who designed the Pavilion for Japanese Art at LACMA (completed six years after his death in 1988). The sculpture in the exhibition is conceptually derived from the Modernist architecture depicted in these photographs, making use of the modular structure—in one particular case, an aluminum curtain-wall framing system by the Pittsburgh based company, Alcoa. By focusing on the ingenious engineering feats of some of these architectures, and recreating them as sculptures, Slade revalues that which was abandoned to make way for what corporate branding calls. economical and ecological progress.
Alex Slade is a Los Angeles artist working in both photography and sculpture. Earlier photographic series have focused on images of large-scale real estate projects such as a social housing project in Berlin, housing development-sized vacant lots, abandoned shopping malls, and suburban development in the Inland Empire. His work has been included in exhibitions throughout the U.S. and internationally, including the Santa Monica Museum of Art; Pasadena Art Museum; San Francisco Art Institute; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami; Els Hanappe Underground, Athens; Kunstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin. The artist has participated in the 1999 Liverpool Biennial; the 2003 Prague Biennial; and the inaugural Hammer Museum mini-Biennial, Snapshot – New Art from Los Angeles. Slade was recently commissioned to make photographs for The Whole Earth California and the Disappearance of the Outside, an exhibition curated by Diedrich Deiderichsen and Anselm Franke that opened in April at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Slade was awarded a C.O.L.A. Individual Artist Fellowship in 2008 and a California Community Foundation Visual Artist Fellowship in 2006. He has a BA in Social Science from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (1984), and an MFA in Photography and Media from the California Institute of the Arts (1993). He is currently the Assistant Chair of the Fine Arts Program at Otis College of Art and Design.
Special Exhibition Event:
In Conversation: Alex Slade and Carole Ann Klonarides
Saturday, October 5, 2013 | 5 PM
Artist Alex Slade and independent curator Carole Ann Klonarides will discuss his interest in abandoned architectures and the land-use issues raised by an urban system that extends far beyond the city's borders.