Adam Bateman's exhibition consists of a large wooden structure with a projected video, several digital collages derived from Google image searches, and a large painting of a landscape. The walkway is a sculptural structure made of untreated lumber that explores the architecture of the gallery space. It moves up and down and dictates the flow of traffic throughout the space. It engages with the modern architecture of landscape tourism. It maps the physical passage throughÂ space of a walker, traveler, and tourist. It unifies experience.
The walkway curates the nature experience and tells us where to take a pictureâ€”how to understand a view. The line of a trail defines a border between mankind and nature it is a passageâ€”a drawing on a landscape that is a manifestation of wilderness, of frontier, and of memory. Something fundamental to being American is travel through the landscape this takes the form of immigration, hiking, road trips and national park tourism. By driving across the country we recreate the action of the westwardÂ expansion of the pioneers.
At the end of the walkway there is a projected video of a sunset over the Great Salt Lake. The horizon is another meridian another line drawn on the landscape perpendicular to the path we travel. The sunset reminds of that line. This video, like the photo-collages and painting explore our notions of sometimes over-the-top beauty that are part of the landscape tourist experience. The photographs are mounted on shaped aluminum supports. The shape is dictated by the outside perimeter of the collaged photos, which are arranged by a common vanishing point. The shape of the support makes them engage with modernist form and sculpture. The subject matter of each piece comes from a Google image search of a singular object that exists in the landscape. The nature of those singular objects is also sculptural. The image is then comprised of the top ten results of a Google image search. They explore the Internet as a virtual site and as a rite of passage. We Google a place before we visit the site. The photos in the gallery comprise a sort of non-site. We walk the pathway in the landscape and because of our previous virtual experience there we recognize the photo we are supposed to take and the view we are supposed to experience while we are there. We then Instagram it and contribute to the public consciousness about that
landscape and we prove to the virtual world we've been there.
The painting of an expansive sagebrush field with a broad, flat horizon is inspired by Cormack McCarthy's Blood Meridian. It is the visceral flipside of the manifest destiny explored in the walkway and photo-collages. It acknowledges the pain and violence inherent in nature and in the Sublime. The red color of the painting is for the red earth of the Western United States. It is the red of the setting sun. It is the red of the sun through skies polluted with windblown dust or with the exhaust of a million cars. The red is also the color of the blood of Indians and pioneers that travel the landscape. It is the color of the blood of massacres of the Hans Mill Massacre of Mormon pioneers in Illinois of the Mountain Meadows Massacre of innocents traveling through Utah on their way to California, massacred by Mormons. It represents the blood of North-bound immigrants crossing the border and crossing the desert. It is the color of the blood that is spilled by a wolf as it takes down a deer. It's the color of Sublime of the struggle of life.
In spite of the diverse media, the exhibition works together as a whole in a way that explores the role of landscape, travel in the landscape, and architectural form in the creation of a unified experience and identity through tourism, the creation of cultural objects, and through art historical context.
About Adam Bateman
Adam Bateman is from Utah and splits his time between Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and New York City. He received a BA in English and Spanish from Brigham Young University and an MFA in Sculpture from Pratt Institute. He is a recipient of the Utah Artist Fellowship Award. He currently has an installation as part of the Utah Biennial: Mondo Utah at Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. Adam has had solo exhibitions of his work in the BYU Museum of Art, Akureyri Art Museum in Iceland, and has exhibited his work in New York and Los Angeles amongÂ many other places around the country. He is interested bridging regional cultural and art issues with issues central to contemporary art at an international scale. As part of this effort he operates an artist-run space called CUAC in Salt Lake City where he pairs international artists with Utah artists.