Roberts & Tilton is pleased to announce Harsh Terrain with works by John Baldessari, David Hammons, Thomas Houseago, Whitney Hubbs, Ana Mendieta, Demetrius Oliver, Noah Purifoy and Melanie Schiff. The exhibition is comprised of works that confront rough territories, manifested in various forms: the physicality, the social/political/economic context, the psychological and finally, the visual object itself.
Ana Mendieta’s 1975 film, Alma Silueta en Fuego (Situeta de Cenizas), documents Mendieta’s burning silhouette, impressed into the earth. Remarking on the existing natural landscape and provoked ephemeral fire, Mendieta addresses larger notions of feminism and the act of performance. In the spirit of Mendieta, Melanie Schiff’s photographs of young women portray the subject mimicking her surroundings. Schiff’s subjects adapt to her respective surroundings, becoming a piece of the environment, rather than the focus of it. Collation between space and placement in John Baldessari’s painted photograph combinations address a harsh optical territory. Baldessari encourages the viewer to decipher and interpret challenging visual relationships. Thomas Houseago reconstructs the human form with aberrant vigor, combining variances in volume and proportion with raw, unrefined material. Demetrius Oliver positions the human form against a triumphant environment. With his 2008 work, Penumbra, a large piece of coal is placed atop a photograph of Oliver’s own head, provoking imposing thoughts of mortality and circumstance. As a leader of the 1960’s/70’s Los Angeles Assemblage movement, Noah Purifoy’s tar and feather constructed work, Strange Fruit, inserts an assertive, yet poetic voice to the socio/political component of the exhibition. Collectively, these artists employ earth-derived elements into their respective practices; conversely, each artist presents a distinct provocation to the viewer.