Arizona State University Art Museum
Sites Around the City: Art and Environment
March 4 - June 4, 2000
"Sites Around the City: Art and Environment" includes more than thirty cultural organizations in the Phoenix area presenting art that is sited in or concerned with the environment. The project will present art by artists who use visual and material languages to examine cultural, perceptual and phenomenological issues of the land, whether specific or archetypal. The inspiration for the project comes from Phoenix's heady mix of city and desert, and the history of environmental art in the area.
The Southwest has a rich history for artists, beginning with ancient Native Americans and continuing through the earthwork artists of the 1960s and 70s. Today Phoenix is the sixth largest city in the nation and home to innovative eco-art projects. It is also a place of extremes that inspire and inform these art projects, from the 120-degree heat in the summer to the manicured golf courses and man-made lakes, from expanding pollution problems to the Western insistence on the car. Phoenix is a metaphor for the expansion of cities throughout the Southwest and the nation.
The citywide project committee is co-managed by Heather Sealy Lineberry and Felicie Regnier.
The ASU Art Museum's exhibition and catalogue will present the most challenging contemporary art in the citywide project "Sites Around the City: Art and Environment." Sculpture, photography, site-specific installations (inside and outside the museum) and video installations will explore the interconnections of the built and the organic, the artificial and the natural, culture and nature - essentially the interaction between humans and the land.
The exhibition will focus on contemporary artists who are cognizant of but reject the remoteness and idealism of the earthwork artists and the didacticism of eco-artists. Robert Smithson abhorred cities and sited his land art projects in timeless landscapes with no boundaries and with alternative measures of time and history. These younger artists have found the same sense of the infinite and chaotic in urban and suburban landscapes, and find these environments more pertinent to contemporary experience. Their art is more cynical, yet also more accepting, of the resulting flawed beauty and tensions between the natural and the cultivated in the urban and suburban. They explore in their art perceptions of the landscape, patterns of behavior, and cultural and developmental impact on the land.
Curated by Heather Sealy Lineberry, the work will be installed in two 2,500-square-foot galleries and outside areas of the ASU Art Museum's Nelson Fine Arts Center facility, which Antoine Predock designed to respond to the landscape and culture of the area.
The project includes: a color, 64-page catalogue with essays; a richly-illustrated website that will grow with the project; a visitor resource center with internet access to research historic and contemporary artists; and a separate guide to the citywide exhibition and programs printed by Arizona Public Service. The ASU Art Museum exhibition catalogue will include essays by Heather Sealy Lineberry (artists and their work) and Ronald Jones (contemporary connections between art and environment).
Su-Chen Hung's and Diana Thater's video installations explore cultural perceptions of the land and nature. Roxy Paine painstakingly recreates natural elements, such as a field of poppies from steel, wire, polymer,vinyl, lacquer, oil paint, epoxy, pigment. Kim Abeles collects layers of smog on screens that mimic familiar, romantic Hudson River School landscape paintings. Michael Ashkin creates tabletop dioramas of the edges of cities, of sublime industrial wastelands. Catherine Opie photographs strip malls, suburban facades and freeway structures that multiply in Western cities and have become our identifiable monuments.
Todd Hido captures atmospheric, nighttime slices of suburban architecture. On closer examination these original California suburbs are deteriorating, experiencing the same entropy that Smithson found in the Great Salt Lake. Stephanie Brooks mimics the need to mediate the experience of nature with signage. Her "Feel Good Here" was a witty pop-psychology rendition of the exercise park. She will create a signage system on the ASU Campus drawing upon the history of the area and the patterns of behavior of the current population.
Finally, Laurie Lundquist uses her knowledge of botany and landscape architecture to create artworks that actually restore the environment. Working at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, she developed an elaborate installation to repair the Lagoon. She will create a site-specific installation of an algae garden in the interior courtyard of the Museum designed building.
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