The notion of a virgin landscape is impossible to imagine in 2014. Whether visible or unseen, there are forces at work that shape our perception of a natural site. Like ghosts or memories, our visualization of place is informed by the real and imagined. Our summer exhibition will feature work by three photo-based artists who are overlaying ideas and assumptions of the natural landscape in or on their imagery.
Sarah Anne Johnson (b. Winnipeg, Canada, 1976) will show works from 2012-13 selected from her Arctic Wonderland and Festival series. Paint, glitter and gold leaf are used freely to suggest the invisible forces behind climate change (becoming more visible daily) and also human behavior at festivals (music, drugs, etc.) Johnson has always sought to make the invisible seen by either creating fictional scenes to represent what the camera has missed, or making marks on straight photographs with paint, scratching, glitter or even fire. Another work from her Arctic Wonderland series will be on exhibition through the summer in the show Magnetic North at the 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery.
In her Forest Intervention series Alejandra Laviada (b. Mexico City, Mexico, 1980) records the discarded piping in the forest surrounding her native Mexico City. Like the site of an abandoned sculpture park , she found these barely visible unused elements which were used to create the Cutzamala water system that provides irrigation to the city. Laviada painted the pipes in saturated colors, emphasizing the man-made sculptural forms in the midst of nature. The recently deceased great Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, a friend and mentor to Laviada, inspired her choice of colors. She acknowledges that these structures will fade and decay with time, and the arc of the series reflects that.
Chloe Sells, (b. Aspen, Colorado, 1976), divides her time between Botswana, Africa, where she photographs with a large format camera, and London, England, where she processes and prints her own work. Each of her prints is unique as a result of her in-depth manipulation of the printing process in the darkroom. This process, which is both spontaneous and deliberate, produces works that are irregular in more sense than one. Sells describes this series, entitled French Kissing, as imbued with a feeling of romance and travel. There is movement in each image, creating a sense of passage through an exotic landscape. The layering of image, color, and texture in the chromogenic prints creates a dreamy effect, transporting the viewer into unknown realms.
Johnson, Laviada and Sells each approach the subject of landscape in a personal and subjective way. Starting with an objective document, they "make their mark" on the imagery, thus making it their own.