Alison Elizabeth Taylor’s new works on view at James Cohan
Gallery display a myriad of contradictions, beginning with the very surface
upon which her narratives unfold. While
her notable wood inlay technique brings to mind traditional high-end decorative
art objects, the stories that unfold within it focus on utopian communities
that have deserted the comforts of an affluent life for living on the fringes
of society. In Room – decisively
the most ambitious work in the exhibition – Taylor depicts the living quarters of
an apparent recluse. The anonymous
inhabitant possesses mainly nostalgic objects of a stereotypically American nature,
including taxidermy, military accessories, and various weapons. Although sparse, every object carries a
cultural significance reflective of our society’s values and desires. The two opposite ‘windows’ each depict a
very different landscape—one showcases a desolate desert, and the other a suburban
environment. These contrasting views
heighten the feeling of impermanence inherent to the room—compressing into a
single vista both the serene present and the inevitably unsettling future.
Other works in the exhibition capture intimate moments within utopian settings. Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome homes make several appearances, though the suggested narratives reveal a far from idyllic existence. Whether with expressions of the ‘threats’ of capitalism or the oftentimes-questionable human nature, Taylor subtly confronts us with the ironies and illusions intrinsic to our society.
*Images: Slab City (2007); Hank (2007). Courtesy the artist and James Cohan Gallery.