MULHERIN + POLLARD is pleased to present two new exhibitions, running concurrently from January 6 - 28, 2012.
Robert Hengeveld's new installation project, ersatz, consists of a collection of materials used to create an expansive composition comprised of synthetic rocks and trees, a series of orchestrated cuckoo birds, a clothes iron, fog juice, glass beads, cardboard, packing tape, lumber, hacked wildlife decoys, and many other materials – some created with the intent of mimicry, while others awkwardly beginning to take on marginal references to the 'natural' landscape given their associated company.
The installation is animated through the periodic inflating and deflating of an inflatable deer. A makeshift smoke machine creates a subtle mist at the base of the beaded waterfall. Cuckoo birds periodically pop in and out of holes which pepper the fabricated cliff façade. All this is overseen by a chrome coyote perched high above, looking over the entire installation – part romanticized emblem of nature, part dollar-store trophy. A small bunny tucked in behind some boxes quivers intermittently.
The work explores our capacity to suspend disbelief and our ability to meld our perceptions in order to fit within a predetermined notion of what it is we are seeing. We can choose to engage a mock rock as a rock or a plastic Christmas tree as a pine or spruce, despite our underlying awareness to the contrary.
The at times conflicting collection of these manufactured elements do not set out to pass judgment – synthetic good, synthetic bad – rather their collective association questions and examines our relationship to the increasingly manufactured environments around us, and our interest in mimicking all things natural – to the extent of embossing wood grain in plastic lumber. The amplification and manipulation of the artifical within this peculiar installation sets a platform in which our existing relationship to the synthetic can be explored; its fiction shedding light on the reality (or recreated reality) of the world we live in.
In conjunction with Hengeveld's installation, Katharine Mulherin curates Makin' It Natural in our Freeman gallery, with works by nine artists from Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, Ottawa, and Maine, all of whom present a version of "natural" in their practice, whether embracing or questioning the notion of the term itself or our complicated struggle with it. Our relationship to animals, landscape, our inner animal and our own corporeal existence are examined in this exhibition of sculpture, textile work, painting, photography and printmaking.