Sunday, February 28, 2010


...And its use.


an area of ground with reference to its nature or composition: arable land.

I feel that "Land" is a topic that must be addressed due to the prevalence of what i am photographing in my practice. Land is the focal point of my studies, and its interpretation and use. My work becomes a document of a great and vast landscape that is in our modern day periphery, it's about the relation between the natural space that remains of our land and its mapping, use, structure, and its man made manipulation. I am focusing on the biking trails throughout our country, it's a vast collection of paths into the known and unknown. Many are built around state parks as a recreational activity and offer a juxtaposition of natural and altered beauty. The objects and spaces that I tend to photograph are primarily in heavily forested and relatively mountainous areas, away from the daily grinds of modern life. They suggest a sublimity, but also question the use of our "natural" space. The way I've been viewing these areas of land use is in a mainly neutral way, not condemning or justifying them in anyway, but rather documenting and allowing us to truly interpret the many uses of the land we've come to call our own. The photographs are devoid of people, allowing us to decipher the trails we create through our natural landscape.

"By blurring the lines between art and activism CLUI are able to draw to draw in diverse communities and get them to collectively think about the ways in which the land is being used and abused, stressing the cultural implications of such misuse."

-Denise Markonish
From the article "Manifest Destiny to Global Warming: A Pre-Apocalyptic View of Landscape" in the book "Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape"

Alexis Rockman (painter)

South (panel 1) 2008 Oil on gessoed paper 77 x 53 inches

South (panel 2) 2008 Oil on gessoed paper 77 x 53 inches

South. 2008. Oil on gessoed paper. 75 x 358 3/4 inches

Alexis Rockman is an artist living and working in New York City. He recieved his BFA from RISD and his MFA from School of Visual Arts.

I chose Alexis Rockman and his his work on Icebergs in Antarctica because I love the representation and attention to detail that is presented in the paintings. Rockman used some contacts of his to make this journey possible, he took a 12 days exploration to the Antarctic and primarily used photography as a note taking device, he really wanted to do something different with his art, and realized that these icebergs are rarely documented as an art form, and the artists previous to him only primarily did anthropological sketches. The idea for the panoramic and under and oversea viewpoint was his realization to create these pieces. These were ways of presentation that hadn't been used yet. Within these works he reveals to us a grandiose landscape that is under much scrutiny in modern times due to the principles of global warming. Even just a few days ago i had heard about huge blocks of ice ready to break off the barren continent. This work brings a visual depiction and awareness that is rarely seen by any; these works are to inform his viewers about the on going dialogue that is global human behavior/effect and the natural landscape and beauty that exists in our world.


Unlike the more illustrative paintings from earlier in his career (he once worked as a columnist and illustrator for Natural History magazine), this recent work makes you want to grope for words like "bravura" and "tour-de-force." But in emotional tenor, these paintings - referred to by the artist as his "weather series" - are almost impossible to tell apart.

Rockman has a reputation as an activist in the fight against environmental desecration: He made a huge splash in 2004 with a giant painting of New York as it might look (mostly submerged) a millennium from now. But in an interview published in the show's catalog, he expresses a desire to free himself from the burden of being labeled an artist-advocate. Now, he says, he's thinking much more about "painterly opportunities."

Rockman gives over the largest part of most of these works to descriptions of dra matic natural phenomena. The idiom recalls both the painterly vigor of Abstract Expressionism and the feeling for the sublime in J.M.W. Turner's late work. The virtuosic paint handling is constantly breaking free from mere description and taking on a life of its own. Thus the artist evokes the volatility of extreme natural phenomena, along with their potential for mind-cracking beauty.

-Sebastian Smee

From the Article "An inconvenient truth in Alexis Rockman's work" From the Boston Globe by Sebastian Smee . June 13, 2008


Position: N 41° 53' 03,4" E 087° 46' 06,8". Area: 160 m2. Chicago, USA.

Position: N 44° 36' 03,2'' E 001° 15' 04,6''. Area: 1100 m2. Les Arques, France.

Position: N 43° 17' 48,1'' E 000° 22' 21''. Area: 400 m2. Pau, France.

Position: N 57° 20' 04,5" E 010° 30' 56,5". Area: 160 m2. Sæby, Denmark.

All parts of LAND are marked with a cairn (height 1 m). The cairns have a frame of stainless acid resistant steel and built-in tanks of PE-plastic. The tanks are equipped with a transparent lid of polycarbonate, tightened with rubber strips.
There is a manual and other equipment in the tanks. Apart from this, the configuration and size of the cairns will be modified according to the sites and their requirements.

What I am interested in about LAND is the ideas that are presented with their geographical locations and the use of mapping, cartography, property, communication and public use of the land. The primary point of LAND is "to create situations with a concrete and fundamental significance to daily life, which at the same time have aesthetic and ethical consequences." This allows LAND to allow people to use private space and make it public by the mere use of decision. This idea to me and I feel to others is a hard concept to grasp. The terminology that LAND uses at times can confuse, but I feel it's very to the point. The land that is selected and allowed to be used as a public space reveals questions of what cities, towns, countries use for private and public space. A Dialogue occurs when viewing said spaces and we the viewer can accept and examine these places.


N55 formed in 1996 when its six members chose to share their living space in Copenhagen. Their rst show at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in 1996 consisted of “…a table and chairs, a pot plant, a jug of orange juice, their own manifesto and a photocopier which visitors were invited to use.” (Lock) Described by Lars Bang Larsen as “domestic Situationism,” N55’s projects consist of re-creations of items used in every-day life, such as living spaces, furniture, washing systems, and food cultivation systems re-worked from the viewpoint that humans share equal rights to property and the necessities for living. For every object N55 designs, they also write a manual describing in detail how to manufacture it, distributing the manuals free of charge from their website In addition to the manuals, N55 posts writings regarding their philosophies,
interviews they’ve had with other artists and critics and pieces of music to be played while reading the various manuals and discussions on this site.

In her article Systemic Inexhaustion, Nana Last explains how N55’s work extends beyond the reductive logic of earlier conceptual work by artists such as Sol LeWitt through their use of internet distribution. She states, “Dissemination of these ideas and distribution of the procedures for their construction are essential compo-nents of the work itself, so that information systems are as much a site of production, inquiry and life support as are the physical units that form the various modules of inhabitation.” (Lake 118-119) Through dissemina-tion, the works can be re-built, and also changed by builders, allowing the pieces to take on lives of their own.

-Katy Asher

Isabelle Hayeur

Au seuil de la nuit 2004 49" X 136" C-Print

Jour de nuit 2006 60" X 64" C-Print

Lot 2008 41" X 96" C-Print

Untitled Legacy 2007 30" X 169" C-Print

The Spaces that she examines are contemporary landscapes that have seen major and quick moving changes throughout the last few decades. The mobility of our culture (both physical and through media) and its affects on land have rapidly reconfigured the use of our territory. These spaces are in a constant state of changing in the Americas and the continuing political measures of capitalization continue the ever present segregation and use of private lands. I focused on her, because she is focused on the manipulated landscape and the ever changing ideas of the land. The use is also an important tool that she examines in her work. It also focuses on the degradation of the land in natural and rural areas as well, something that my work focuses on too.

A quote from Her artist Statement that I like the most:

"The strong contrasts found in these compositions and the struggles that light and shadow seem to be engaged in evoke the power relationships involved. In these Nuits , we can see the consequences of the crumbling of the founding values of our societies, and perhaps also the end of a certain “American dream.” They bring together a few viewpoints culled from these “territories of shadow.”"

Full Artist Statement

These images come from a series that begun in 2004 and is still in progress. The pieces produced to date take a fairly wide variety of forms, including panorama, architectural photography and indoor scenes. Their source is urban landscapes in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Argentina. They depict the changes that are occurring at the same time throughout the Americas in today's context of a global economy. These transformations are reshaping our territories and everyday life.

This investigation broaches many indissociable questions. Some of these issues relate to the growing economic disparities and social divisions; others refer to the relocation of the economy and to contemporary forms of urban segregation (like the creation of free trade zones or gated communities). They also tackle the degradation of natural and rural areas. These works thus define a certain current political horizon. They show us working-class neighbourhoods undergoing “gentrification,” business districts, poverty-stricken neighbourhoods, outcasts, run-down apartments and threatened natural areas. These disturbing landscapes reveal the results of State policies of disengagement and privatization of public institutions. We are gradually witnessing a change in the political scene, where multinationals are tending to become societies' key players, with their development strategies having an increasing effect on our daily lives. The metaphor of twilight is used to suggest the many losses stemming from this prospect. The strong contrasts found in these compositions and the struggles that light and shadow seem to be engaged in evoke the power relationships involved. In these Nuits , we can see the consequences of the crumbling of the founding values of our societies, and perhaps also the end of a certain “American dream.” They bring together a few viewpoints culled from these “territories of shadow.”

-Isabelle Hayeur

Anthony Goicolea

Anthony Goicolea | CORN FIELD | © 2002 | 22 x 78 | Ed. 1- 9 C-Print

Anthony Goicolea | SNOWSCAPE | © 2003 | 27 x 27 | Ed. 1- 30 C-Print

What I like about Goicolea's work in his landscape series is that there is no person present in these monumental images, yet there's obvious signs of human activities and presence. He recreates a narrative through past tense using props, staged sets, and theatrical implications in his photographs. Much of my work is without the presence of human life, but there is the presence of human activity. It can be seen in the built up ramps, tracks through the land, and the manipulation of the landscape. I am looking at his work about the developing of a narrative through these post active landscapes. Although my work isn't very narrative based, there's ideas and thoughts that i would like the viewer to pick up on. The use of the land and its manipulation is the primary focus though. But, the past history and action are all main players in the dialogue that is put in front of the viewers in my work and I would like to make more strides to help engage the viewer like Goicolea.

Artist Statement about Landscape Series:

While working on my "Multiple Self-Portrait Series," I became increasingly interested in the locations, sets, and installations I was constructing during production of my photographs. The uniform clad figures in the series evolved into autonomous universal stand-ins for the idea of adolescence and began to play a secondary role to the environments which inspired their actions and with in which they existed.

Influenced by the tradition of nature and the sublime in early and mid 19th century american landscape paintings, my series of landscape photographs treat their environments as hyper exaggerated frontiers in which remnants of past human interaction are evident through left over traces of people and their activities.

The scenarios often resemble what many of my previous sets and locations looked like after a full day of shooting. Many of the scenes are staged or constructed and then further altered through digital manipulation to create a world anchored in reality but predicated on fantasy, fairy-tales, fables, mythology and other narratives.

Although most of the images are devoid of actual human presence, there is a strong sense of humanity established through the wake of their aftermath or in the mimicked behavior of the animals portrayed in each photograph. In "Molting" a forest is rolled in toilet paper as three deer lay witness to the left over high school prank which emulates the hanging scraps of velvet shedding off their antlers. Two abandoned cars and stacks of suit cases filled with school uniforms clutter the foreground of a farming plantation at sunset in "Corn Field". The pastoral landscape displayed in "Cherry Island" is over run by a crowd of birds, ducks, and rabbits in a sicky-sweet, glaringly artificial, idyllic garden scene.

Distorted cinematic proportions play off the horizon line and lend a physical element to the construction of the photo. In "Snowscape," a 60 foot long scene forces the viewer to walk down the length of the photograph to read the image in its entirety. The scene melds three frozen and barren landscapes into one unified winter narrative punctuated with animal skins, snow balls, footprints, clothes-lines, and pee stains. "Poplar Trees" uses its elongated format to convey a passage of time as twilight sets in on the tree lined plane.

Within these landscapes, seemingly realistic environments provide physical evidence and visual proof of an ongoing past narrative. The photographs use the aesthetics and beauty inherent to nature and the sublime to create an exagerated pastoral scene which bares the imprint of time.

-Anthony Goicolea

Jakob Kolding

Untitled (Spaced Out?) (2001) Collage / Xerox copy 70 x 100 cm Unique

Untitled (2001) Print 90 x 90 cm

Untitled (Auckland) (2004) Poster 60 x 42 cm

What drew my eye to Jakob Kolding's work is how he propaganda like posters to create an urban landscape that reflects upon social order, social space, and land use. He uses a very soviet constructivist aesthetic to create these collages and uses the poster, a long lived propaganda tool, to represent his work. His collages are mixed with by the harsh framework of city control and planning, he is at the mixing desk of urban representation. Although they aren't by any means a traditional landscape, they are a social landscape. They include much of what today makes us contemporary, the use of advertising, mass production, economics, and visual literacy. This in essence is the entire concept of landscape, it reveals more information about a certain place due to the use of all of those descriptors.


Can't get it to copy and paste so here's the PDF of Jakob Kolding in ArtForum

Rula Halawani

The Wall 111, 2004. Series of 5 photographs Projected. Dimensions Variable

The Wall 56, 2004. Series of 5 photographs Projected. Dimensions Variable

The Wall 37, 2004. Series of 5 photographs Projected. Dimensions Variable

What has me interested in Rula Halawani's work is how she is using the landscape as a document for social change. The Wall Series is about the construction of a wall in Israel that they call a security wall, while many call it an apartheid wall. The wall is a 72.5 Kilometer long, 8 meter high concrete barrier that cuts through the land near the Qalandia checkpoint. These images are very cold and sterile, a bleak look into a country that is still ripe with territorial disputes and much infighting. her work highlights the way "in which art is capable of capturing the lived experience in an accidental, unplanned, non-monumental urban environment that is struggling for its place on a map, suggesting without explicitly representing the intricate routes of movement that animate a space, fill it with life, but leave no trace, only an empty, trembling scene of impossible closure (P.174)." (Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, from the book "Ideal City - Invisible Cities")


Halawani's series 'Irrational' presents us with wider vistas and panoramas that represent the transformation of landscape that has occurred with the building and expansion of Israeli settlements. In her photographs, Halawani imparts the sense of alienation in relation to the imposition on the landscape with road ways, settlements and the infrastructure for the Apartheid Wall. Taken on winter days while driving in her car, the photographs impart a sense of gloom, foreboding and oppression -- suggested both through the way she has captured the image and their perspective. The settlements always loom overhead, and through her photographs the sense of monumental change that one is unable to affect is suggested. Vis-a-vis the architecture of dominance the individual feels isolated and alienated in what was once a familiar landscape. Halawani's images are very much images of the 'everyday' landscape that Palestinian who are able to move from one location to another see. Settlements on the horizon have become a permanent feature of the Palestinian field of vision.

Halawani is constantly engaged in representing the everyday transformation that occurs on the ground in Palestine. The accumulation of these images are a testimony to the details that become the fabric of monumental historical change which is occurring in Palestine.

-Dr. Tina Sherwell

Full Article Here

Kendell Geers

Suburbia Installation View

From the Suburbia series, 1999. Cibachrome, 30.5 x 40.5 cm

From the Suburbia series, 1999. Cibachrome 40.5 x 30.5 cm

What drew me to Kendell Geers work is the similarity in the photographs that we take. I feel that there's a shared aesthetic between his body of work and mine. Conceptually though, I like the way he reveals this issue of security and private property in South Africa. These presentations the lengths of which people go to so they can protect their lands and homes from the unforeseen. These documents of security seem to be residual effects of apartheid and the segregation of the communities thereafter. He shows us a typology of these safety measures in South Africa and opens a dialogue up about how much safer those measures really make us.

Review (in part):

What is important about the tone and tenor of the questions that framed the Global Cities exhibition is that they were not didactic, and did not seem to shut down discussion and debate about global cities. The questions and statements, as well as the exhibition’s five themes – size, speed, form, density, and diversity – provided visual scaffolding for artists and architects to not only interpret these 10 cities, but also pose a number challenges for their futures.

The exhibition not only locates Johannesburg within a network of global cities, but also positions it within a research framework that is about reading cities through pattern and recognition. There were two photographic projects representing Johannesburg: Kendell Geers’ Suburbia (1999), and the above-mentioned Jo’burg (2004) by Guy Tillim. Through these two bodies of work, the exhibition offered a fairly alienating view of South Africa’s largest city. An Antipodean visitor to the exhibition said of Geers’ photographs of suburban security in South Africa: “It’s a different world that we can’t even begin to relate to.” But then, this is probably a comment that many visitors made about cities on the exhibition that were very different from their own.

The third issue worth considering in relation to research exhibitions is the changing face and identity of ongoing research exhibitions. When grappling with exhibitions that address themselves to a set of ongoing critical questions, there are at least two curatorial issues that need to be considered. The first is a possibility for exhibitions that can and should be pushed, and the second is a limitation in display that needs to be overcome.

-Rory Bester

The Center For Urban Pedagogy

The Cargo Chain, from the Making Policy Public Series. the Map highlights points in the North American transportation system that are vulnrable to activism by organized labor.

From Knoxville: Building Communities. Detail from The City without a Ghetto.

What I really like about this non profit community based organization is their development of information into a physical and visual language. Their Use of mapping in the areas of urban planning are also a great interest of mine. The group was formed by artists, designers, city planners, architects and community activists. They represent their questions, analyzes, and proposals for spatial politics of contemporary life. These maps are ofter fun and playful, very designed, they experiment with form and representation and are great tools for research with pedagogical potential.


Part of CUP's Urban Investigations program, which asks basic questions about how cities work, Bodega Down Bronx delves into the politics and players of New York's network of bodegas. Under the direction of CUP teaching artist Jonathan Bogarín, and working with CUP staff Valeria Mogilevich and Rosten Woo, and intern Sarah Nelson Wright, the student filmmakers researched issues, visited sites, storyboarded scenes, produced props and sets, and conducted interviews. They took their video equipment and question lists to store owners, wholesalers, distributors, drivers, and customers young and old. They met with nutrition professors and diabetes counselors, and with U.S. congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, who sponsored H.R. 5952, the Bodegas as Catalysts for Healthy Living Act (which would have provided grants to bodega owners to install refrigerated cases to stock more perishable produce). Along the way they teased out the cause-and-effect of food cultures, the self-reinforcing cycles (and stereotypes) that have turned some urban neighborhoods into so-called food deserts. Do bodegas stock a lot of snack food because that's what their customers want, or do customers reach for the BBQ-flavored crisps because that's what's available at the bodega?

Like all CUP projects, Bodega Down Bronx is inspired by the conviction that cities and their complex systems and politics can be made legible and transparent — and more, that this transparency is vital for democratic society.

— Nancy Levinson

Full Article here

J. Henry Fair

75 x 50in C-Print 2009
At this fertilizer plant, the phosphate rock is processed with sulfuric acid to convert the phosphate into phosphoric acid, and again with ammonia to produce a diammonium phosphate, which is water soluble and thus available for uptake by roots. For every ton of phosphoric acid, five tons of phosphogypsum waste are produced, which, due to the presence of naturally occurring uranium and radium, is radioactive. Therefore it must be stored in “gyp stacks,” contaminating ground and surface water

75 x 50in C-Print 2009
Dragon shape in phosphate fertilizer mining waste

There comes a real enjoyment when viewing these photographs and also there's a feeling of disappointment. There grandiose aerial photographs are beautiful in the abstraction of the land, yet brutal in the use they depict. Many of his photographs are of industrial sites and complexes disrupting the landscape and creating havoc on the environment. His images depict fertilizer runoff, mining complexes, various chemicals being deposited into the landscape (both natural and man made), and a plethora of other ecological and environmental disasters covered up by corporations and industry. There's an obvious agenda to his work, although he is showing us these beautiful abstractions in the land, the colorful nature of these images are not natural, much is from all of the chemicals that are being deposited into the land. My work is much less environmental than his, but I feel that there are many similarities. I am showing these manipulated landscapes of nature and the paths that we create for recreation. There are many objects and obstacle that have been places into my landscapes and I depict them as a document, much like he does.

Artist Statement:

My work is a response to my vision of society.
I see our culture as being addicted to petroleum and the unsustainable consumption of other natural resources, which seems to portend a future of scarcity. My vision is of a different possibility, arrived at through careful husbandry of resources and adjustment of our desires and consumption patterns toward a future of health and plenty. To gear our civilization toward sustainability does not necessitate sacrifice today, as many naysayers would argue, but simply adjustment. There are many societies existing at present that have a standard of living at least as high as ours while consuming and polluting a fraction of what is the norm in the United States.
As an artist with a message, one asks oneself: how do I translate my message to my medium such that it will effect the change I want?
At first, I photographed “ugly” things; which is, in essence, throwing the issue in people’s faces. Over time, I began to photograph all these things with an eye to making them both beautiful and frightening simultaneously, a seemingly irreconcilable mission, but actually quite achievable given the subject matter.
These are all photographs of things i have found in my explorations.
Other than standard photographic adjustments of contrast, they are unmodified.

-J. Henry Fair

Melissa Brown

New Valdez Oil on Aluminum, 60″ x 120″, 2008

Pond Scum, Oil on Aluminum, 48″ x 48″, 2007

I chose Melissa Brown because of her depiction of land in her apocalyptic landscapes. Much of her work is inspired from sci fi fantasy movies and action thrillers. The painting are a testament to idea of being able to witness the demise of civilization. To be able to sit back and indulge in the psychedelic and surreal aspects over impending death. The idea that there are so many ways that the world can end, there are endless ways of depiction and the dialogue one gets were absorbing the image. I like that the paintings are at times where doom is apparent, yet it appears to be the calm before the storm, everything seems normal to just plain sight, but the landscape is changing. My photography in sorts is depicting an environmental encroachment of people into its space. Although I am just shooting as a document, i allow for the absorption of the image, what does the land tell you? What does the manipulation and use tell you? questions like these are things I would like people to get out of my photographs and analyze what they mean.


Curated by Denise Markonish

Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape
May 24, 2008 - April 12, 2009, 
Building 4, First Floor
From the earliest renderings on cave walls, man has been compelled to depict the world around him. The tradition of portraying the landscape has threaded together movements as varied as the mid-19th century Hudson River School and the Earth Art of the 1960s and ‘70s. Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape, opening Sunday, May 25, 2008, at MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, opens the next chapter in the landscape tradition, addressing contemporary ideas of exploration, population of the wilderness, land usage, environmental politics and the relativity of aesthetic beauty.
Badlands comes at this critical time, an era when the world is more ecologically aware yet more desperately in need of solutions than ever before. The artists in this exhibition share this collective anxiety some turn to the past to see how their predecessors negotiated the terrain of the landscape while some propose entirely new ideas. While deeply aware of the legacy of the landscape, each of these artist reinvents the genre to produce works that look beyond vast beauty to address current environmental issues.

How disasters affect the land
Another group of artists addresses both natural and man-made disasters and how they affect the land and its inhabitants. Leila Daw’s large-scale paintings deal with floods and volcanoes and how they impact both the landscape and civilization; in her work the constructed environment is always being wiped out as a lesson to the interlopers. Melissa Brown and J. Henry Fair deal more directly with the beauty of a declining landscape. Brown’s Anime-inspired paintings look like postcard images of national parks until closer examination reveals an oil slick on the surface of the water or a technicolor view of Niagara Falls. Fair’s unaltered aerial photographs seem to capture beautiful abstractions of the landscape, while, in truth, their “beauty” is actually the result of man-made chemical processes that are actively polluting the landscape.

No comments: