Space Over Time • 11/4/11 – 12/11/11

Space Over Time

Oliver Warden, Ziggeraut, 2010, Oil on Canvas, 21″ x 26″

November 4th – December 11th, 2011
Opening reception: November 4th, 6 – 9pm
Open Weekends: 12 – 6pm and by appointment
Location: 722 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11211
Directions: L – train to Graham Avenue [map]
2nd Friday Art Walk: November 11th & December 9th,2011

“. . .a landscape is not a natural feature of the environment but a synthetic space, a man-made system of spaces superimposed on the face of the land, functioning and evolving not according to natural laws but to serve a community…. A landscape is thus a space deliberately created to speed up or slow down the process of nature. . . . it represents man taking upon himself the role of time.”
—John Brinkerhoff Jackson, Discovering the Vernacular Landscape

Space Over Time is an exhibition of artists whose work uses landscape as a means of investigating history. Through practices which oscillate between representation and abstraction, the artists in this exhibition find within landscape not just a place in the present, but also a physical manifestation of historical time, whether that history is geological, political, imaginary, or all of the above.

Artists: Gina Dawson, Lauren Portada, Benjamin Tiven, Oliver Warden, Lauren Warner
Curated by Thomas Marquet

Oliver Warden’s paintings subsume diagrammatic renderings of landscapes into works which are palimpsests of time and place. In his work, multiple cartographies are absorbed into the language of abstract painting. In their layering, his works not only offer the optical present of abstraction, but also literally manifest the accumulation of geological and political history which shapes the world we live in, and by extension, the painting we’re looking at.

Geology, politics, and painting also intersect in the work of Lauren Warner. Her painting begin with the picturesque landscape of the US National Parks system, but subtly upend this idea of nature as “view” by picturing natural phenomena which frustrate our vision and processes which occur so slowly as to appear entirely static. With these images Warner reflects our tendency to imagine nature as a thing to visit and view, but frustrates that desire by offering us images which obscure as much as they reveal.

In Lauren Portada’s works on paper, we see a similar vision of spectacular nature, here deformed and obscured by an invasion of alien forms, instances of abstraction which foreshadow the “invasion” of wild spaces by human agency. These crystalline objects are not only figures within the natural world, but also axes around which spaces are folded and fissures appear, allowing for other places to intersect with these landscapes.

Gina Dawson’s work considers a different invasion of alien forms. In So You Won’t Be Lonely, Dawson takes as her subject the anonymous intervention of the crop circle. Whether the work of misguided land artists or extraterrestrials with poor communication skills, these paradoxically anonymous signatures impart to the landscapes on which they appear a greater significance. Dawson’s cut paper field brings two vernacular sculptural forms together, creating not merely the form of communication, but the very field which makes it possible, hinting at the larger history of which these circles are a part, that of our efforts to communicate with forces greater than ourselves, and the equal parts hope and fear which inform those efforts.

While Benjamin Tiven’s work also addresses interventions in the landscape, it does so to very different ends. In The Delight of the Yearner, the built landscape provides a cross-section of the experience of exile in the 20th century. The site of the Oceanic hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, provides a point of intersection of the lives of the German exile architect Ernst May and the Romanian exile urban planner Erica Mann. The intersection of their histories on this site serves as a point from which to consider the relationship between individual lives and the historical forces which shape them. This is reflected in the photographs of the ground on which the Oceanic hotel once stood, in which Tiven considers the ground itself, creating images in which description and abstraction are mutually entangled.

For all of these artists, the landscape serves not just to address history but also to consider the history of its representation. Whether by conflating geological history with current events, considering the history of our notions of natural beauty, or investigating the ways in which our interventions in the landscape reflect not only the time in which they were made but the history of which they wish to be a part, all these artists access history by considering space over time. – Thomas Marquet

Camel Art Space is an Artist operated exhibition Space with a focus on current trends in art within a not for profit work frame, is a member of Williamsburg Gallery Association and is participating in 2:nd Friday Art Walk. Situated in one of New York’s artistically defining neighborhoods we strive to provide an accessible exhibition platform and meeting venue for artists, curators and audience alike.

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