American Landscape

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All Natural
Rise Retreat
Love Mount
The Eagle Has Landed
The Making of Americans
American Landscape
Curated by: Dan Carlson

558 St. Johns Place
11238 Brooklyn

November 17th, 2012 - December 16th, 2012
Opening: November 17th, 2012 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Other (outside areas listed)
Thu-Sun 1-6 or by appointment
photography, mixed-media, digital, installation, video-art, conceptual, sculpture


Please Note: after Dec. 16 thru Jan. 6 the exhibition is pen by appointment only.


"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence with no civilization in between"
- Oscar Wilde

In the mid 19th century, a group of artists known as the Hudson Valley School sought to
capture the magnificence of the American frontier at a time when little of it was seen, and
even less was known. It was a precursor to the grand experiment of manifest destiny
and glorified the pristine, “virgin” land of this young country as much as it disregarded the
history of a civilization who had called it home for thousands of years. These painters
corralled their efforts under the cloak of Romanticism, attempting to capture the sublimity
of natureʼs prowess under godʼs creation. It was a method of interpreting their
surroundings with a child-like innocence, with little regard to sense of place and history,
let alone the cultures that inhabited it. While these painters demonstrated a high level of
craft and their aesthetic is what the majority of the general public think of when they hear
the word “art,” their subject matter is arbitrary and generic, offering the viewer mere
surface contemplation; nothing more than the saccharine pleasure of an idealized
meadow, river, or mountain.

As the Hudson Valley School proffered idyllic visions of a new countryʼs seemingly
endless bounty of open space and natural resources, the group of artists and thinkers in
this exhibition are grappling with effects of late model capitalism, after the 20th centuryʼs
greatest superpower has reached its peak and begins to tumble down the mountain.
Engaging what Gilles Deleuze would refer to as “nomadic thought,” this exhibition
interprets the cycle of people who live on, alter, and leave certain sections of land as an
amorphous process with constantly changing boundaries of our physical and
psychological environments. Their choice of media reflects this mode of thinking,
defining their practices with monikers like “exercises in futility,” “video documentation of
temporary public installations,” or “mobile-hybrid sculptural systems”. Their works act of
a kind of field guide, offering the viewer multiple routes for navigating their physical and
cultural surroundings.

Greg Stewart and Dymph de Wildʼs sculptural works and “survival suits” are eerie
mutations of the plant and animal kingdom, designed for the chaos spawned from
migration and adaptation in the areas between urban and rural environments. For Dan
Carlson the residue and monuments of the Cold War, in the form of abandoned military
bases and industrial wastelands, serve as fertile ground for cultivating response in the
form of video installations. Peter Lapsleyʼs sculptures are composed of industrial
materials used in contemporary architecture that nod to the perfect forms of ancient
mathematics and the ruins that serve as evidence of their unattainability.
Producing both reflective and functional research-based works, Jan Mun focuses on
cultural and ecological immigration through community-based interventions, while Rick
Reid's conceptual, text-based work uses Gertrude Stein's The Making of Americans in
tandem with the Human Genome Project to create a new vision of human cartography.
Marin Abell's exercises in “unlearning” re-evaluate our instinct to organize and map by
presenting whimsical scenarios with stoic purposefulness.

Corina Reynolds examines our ritualistic relationship with advertising and its power to
homogenize any foreign space into something immediately accessible and familiar,
whereas Josh Bricker's videos create a kind of displacement where the commonplace,
nationalist pride so embedded in American entertainment turns into something
completely alien.

John Wanzel employs the method of artist as expert, taking a pseudoscientific approach
for describing man-made structures in geologic terms, while Leah Raintree's shale
drawings and photographs that serve as evidence of climate change distort value
systems of natural resources in abstracted, economic terms. Tom Pnini's work reveals
the mechanics of illusion and skirts a fine line between glorifying and vilifying american
industry, and play nicely with Chad Curtis' scaled down mountains made from
disposable, everyday materials. Ben Finer's works on paper hinge the seemingly
mundane beauty of natural landscapes with a constructed spirituality, while Daniel J.
Glendening acts as a kind of intermediary historian, culling inspiration from the failed
utopian experiments of our recent past and producing artifacts that seem to come from
the near future.

Together these artists are united through a heightened sense of awareness to their
immediate surroundings seen through the lens of the American landscape; a landscape
shaped by unseen socio-political forces, constantly shifting cultural paradigms, and the
dizzying flux of construction and destruction.

New works by: Marin Abell, Josh Bricker, Dan Carlson, Chad Curtis, Dymph de
Wild, Ben Finer, Daniel J. Glendening, Peter Lapsley, Jan Mun, Tom Pnini, Leah
Raintree, Rick Reid, Corina Reynolds, Greg Stewart, & John Wanzel.

Organized by: Dan Carlson