Watching Wildlife, a recent video I created for an upcoming exhibition titled Frame of Reference: Dioramas in the 21st Century at Ann Street Gallery in Newburgh, NY, is now available for viewing on this site and on YouTube and Vimeo.
Watching Wildlife, a recent video I created for an upcoming exhibition titled Frame of Reference: Dioramas in the 21st Century at Ann Street Gallery in Newburgh, NY, is now available for viewing on this site and on YouTube and Vimeo.
Charissa Terranova wrote an exhibition review for “On Wheels” which is on view in Fort Worth, TX through May 21, 2011. Below is the original essay from the Glasstire webiste. Original essay here.
Masura Tatsuki: ” Dichimaru II, Shizuoka”, 2007 C-print
The latest exhibition at brand 10, Fort Worth’s smart, cozy and newest kunsthalle, On Wheels is equal parts kitsch and high politics. In this show, plain-faced middle-American falderal meets something with a little more get-up-and-go—literally cars, but also a grassroots sensibility embodied in the rolling wheel and its indexical reference to the sidewalk, road, national infrastructure and wars for natural resources. Don’t get me wrong: this show is more about the laughter of a good prank than pieties of responsibility. But its populist formalism, rooted in our collective fetish of the car and all else that transports, gives rise to a powerful and empowering notion of regional art, which is the central topic of the Glasstire 10th anniversary panel at the Fort Worth Modern, May 7. In framing the multifaceted and poly-vocal work of On Wheels in terms of regionalism, I hereby kick off the pre-discussion and, more importantly, bring specific framing to bear on the work of Heagan Bayles, Libby Black, Matthew Cusick, Ryan Humphrey, Masaru Tatsuki, Matthew Porter, Chris Powell and Justin Shull, the coterie of artists brought together by On Wheels curator Kathy Webster.
Justin Shull, ” Terrestrial Shrub Rover,” 2009, Mixed Media
Beyond the simple functionalism of getting-there-now bound up with vehicular movement, this show, at some level, is about cadging an existential ride. Each work of art routes its own way through a ratty tangle of eldritch emotions. Justin Shull’s Terrestrial Shrub Rover, (2009) is a turf-covered pod on wheels. It looks like a giant topiary with the potential to roll. A video on YouTube, Terrestrial Shrub Rover Maiden Voyage (2009), shows that potentiality realized as Shull drives over and across the bucolic terrain of suburban America in his very extraterrestrial Terrestrial Shrub Rover. Chris Powell’s Hump on Casters, (2001-2011) is a large white swollen mound on small wheels. Its polish and tight form suggests Eva Hesse’s earthy minimalism and Louise Bourgeois’ finesse with molding tumors into art form. The piece is however truly about landscape and corporeal presence. It intentionally looks like a shiny white hill, the shape of which is based on the hump of a Brahman bull.
Chris Powell, “Hump on Casters”, 2001-2011, staff, pallet, casters.
Libby Black’s Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, Roller Skates, (2011) does, in very pointed, miniature fashion, what most pieces in the show do, namely outline the extraordinary at work in the profane. In this instance a simple pair of toy skates is the currency of commodification. Black’s skates are laden with branding, bearing in handmade fashion the names and imprimaturs of money, arrival and ownership. Black’s skates are all about possession: your ownership of an object and, reciprocally, corporate ownership of you. Ryan Humphries’ Winnebago Skate, (2010), a pimped out toy camper, the wheels of which are jacked up, plays out a similar set of themes concerning the road, technological extension, ownership and identity.
Libby Black, “Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, Roller Skates,” 2011, mixed media
The implicit stability of the “region” and the changefulness and movement that is the crux of On Wheels might, for some, seem to be at cross-purposes, making the latter more about the non-place, as Marc Augé once described it, than the regionalist place. I would like to argue that the artwork in On Wheels offers a regionalism of the everywhere place—the ubiquitous localism that materializes in the form of roads, highways, gas stations, fast food restaurants and strip malls. It is a regionalism of what you see in passing while looking out the car window. It is a region on the run. So, theirs is a regionalism that might or might not be about Texas.
Matthew Porter, “Burnout #2,” 2007, archival pigment print mounted to plexiglas with satin laminate
The majority of artists in this exhibition are in fact from places other than Texas—Japan, New York, New Hampshire and San Francisco. These are works that engage and embody the region in its most basic and shared geographical form—the American road, built and un-built landscape and by connection, the automobile manufacturing industry here and abroad, the sources of petroleum here and abroad and our international interests connected to the region characterized by the road and landscape. We might say that it is a regionalism that moves beyond state boundaries while staying within the precincts of the United States. Yet, at the same time, it is a regionalism that knows global interconnection well, hence the electric light parade of 18-wheelers that is the center of Japanese photographer Masura Tatsuki’s work. Theirs is thus a regionalism fundamentally affected by globalization and the flows of capital.
Ryan Humphrey, “Winnebago Skate”, 2010, mixed media
Seen from the point of view of an everywhere-place regionalism, the flickering and maniacal views to the road of Matthew Cusick’s File on Motor Transgression, (2000-2011) are not so much about the spliced, edited and fused car chases in Manhattan or Chicago, but of our manic relationship to technology and shared place here as addle-headed channel surfers sitting on the couch in front of the TV where we actually saw the original footage in late-night movies. And the fetish-object photographs by Matthew Porter and Heagan Bayles describe a related localism, viz., a regionalism, of the drag strip, where men preen their mechanical feathers for all to see in the form of a smokin’ muscle car or the singularity of a Ferrari. In this show we find a regionalism that is a matter of interconnection and systemic relations, energies coursing through roads and airways while also forces for the beauty of a down-home healthy guffaw. Its resistance to globalization is not so much a matter of cutthroat, loudmouth politics but of a matter of just being. In that it is here, local and part of the workings of a not-for-profit space, it is a counterforce to operations over and beyond national boundaries. It bodies forth a regionalism against globalization, enabling a call for the “recuperation of local powers of self-determination” as Marxist geographer David Harvey would have it.
Brand 10 in Fort Worth is a small, plucky space with carefully focused energies, as proven by On Wheels, a mind-prodding, formally hip and fun exhibition.
brand 10 artspace
April 8 – May 21, 2011
Charissa N. Terranova is Assistant Professor of Aesthetic Studies at The University of Texas at Dallas. She lectures and teaches seminars on art and architectural history, theory, and criticism and media and new media theory. She is a scholarly writer and freelance curator and critic working both nationally and internationally. In January 2010, she stepped down from the position of Founding Director and Chief Curator of Centraltrak: The UT Dallas Artists Residency in order to complete her scholarly manuscript.
FORT WORTH, Texas – brand 10 artspace is pleased to announce ON WHEELS, which opens April 8 and
runs through May 21, 2011. The exhibition features artists investigating the fascination with car culture
so prevalent today. brand 10 artspace founders were inspired by a visit to a lowrider car show many
years ago and have brought together work that responds to the dominance of the automobile in a
variety of ways.
ON WHEELS brings together works by Heagan Bayles, Libby Black, Matthew Cusick, Ryan Humphrey,
Masaru Tatsuki, Matthew Porter, Chris Powell and Justin Shull. Each work in the exhibition relates to
the notion of movement and mobility, but the pieces diverge with each artist drawing from a certain
sub group of contemporary culture – whether the work relates to BMX bikes, skateboards and camping/
rv references (Humphrey); documents extreme embellishments of Japanese trucks known as decotora
(Masura); uses cultural icons of desire such as haute couture labels (Black); or fine automobiles (Bayles);
presents a collection of cinematic images(Cusick); dangerous momentum frozen in the time (Porter);
is inspired by the pace of the natural world with distilled forms (Powell); or references the “green
movement” with natural disguise (Shull).
ON WHEELS is organized by brand 10 artspace artists Kathy Webster, Matthew Clark, Heagan Bayles and
Christine Bisetto. Join us for an opening reception for the artists on Friday April 8 from 5pm – 9pm.
The Eastfield College Department of Visual Arts presents the second annual installment of Temporary Occupants, April 8 – May 6, at Eastfield College. Artists have been invited to create temporary site referential responses to various spaces in and around the campus. These individual projects encourage viewers to reconsider the notion of artistic “space” and how works are to be presented and viewed. Temporary Occupants presents art objects as situations to be discovered rather than viewed in any formal or expected way. Artists include Courtney Brown, Mickey Bruce, Matt Clark, Kristen Cochran, C.J. Davis, Lanie Delay, Eric Eley, Lance Jones, Justin Shull, Sunny Sliger and Marianne Newsome, Sour Grapes, Jenny Vogel, Lizzy Wetzel and Kathy Windrow.
Join the Visual Arts Department for a reception for the artists on Saturday, April 9 from 6–9 p.m. Mingle in the lower courtyard between the “L” and “C” building and enjoy tacos as you listen to records spun by DJ Jeff Ross, then roam around campus with artists and friends to locate the work. Maps will be available at the reception. Please park and enter at the Performance Hall on the west side of campus.
For more information visit http://efcvisualarts.blogspot.com/
Eastfield College, one of the seven Dallas County Community Colleges, is located at 3737 Motley Drive in Mesquite, just north of I-30.
The Fresh Glade and Terrestrial Shrub Rover were recently featured on a segment of Discovery Channel Canada’s science show Daily Planet. The segment from Daily Planet’s February 16, 2011 show is now available to watch on YouTube:
Even Dallas gets snow storms. Daniel McCarthy recently took this photo of the Porta Hedge and the Terrestrial Shrub Rover on Dyer Street blanketed in (real) snow.
Its inventors call the ANDREA Air Purifier “an innovation in ecological living through plant-based air purification.” The Air Purifier is the “first award-winning air filter capable of absorbing toxic gases, such as formaldehyde, from home and office environments through the natural absorptive and metabolic properties of living plants.”
The ANDREA could be described as a plastic bubble that houses a plant, and into which air is drawn, purified by the plant and then pushed back out. Consumers can purchase an ANDREA at Home Depot for $199 and it has been featured on Popular Science’s website but now Consumers Union, publishers of ShopSmart, are including the air purifier in their Loser List of 22 products not to buy in their January 2011 issue. via Yahoo!.
Kristen Cochran and Erin Starr White gathered several local artists at the Reading Room in Dallas TX on the evening of Saturday, December 4 for a potluck of sorts – each of us contributed edible art as part of a community meal. The public was invited to join the event between 8-10 pm and by then remnants were all that remained of the suitcase apple pie, numerous baked items with surprises inside, tastebud altering sorbet and other unique recipes. Colleen and I contributed fresh green, red and orange juices made from various fruits and vegetables in leaky cups…
Participating artists included Iris Bechtol, Richie Budd, Kristen Cochran, Cassandra Emswiler, Tom and Shannon Lauerman, Harmony Padgett, Justin and Colleen Shull, Kevin Todora, David Willburn, Billy Zinser, and Lanie DeLay.
The New York Times’ John Markoff reports on robotic warriors. It’s endearing until it begins firing off machine gun rounds.
I pulled this image out of a National Geographic a couple of years back and came across it in my files recently. According to it managing director Billy Chau, at one point Boji exported 1.6 million trees to the U.S. each year.
Thank you to everyone who attended my workshop at Booker T. Washington High School today. I enjoyed the opportunity to present some of my work and that of other artists who undertake creative actions in the public.
Below is a list of artists and resources included in the presentation and links to respective websites. Please contact me if you would like to receive a PDF version of the presentation.
The Center for Economic and Environmental Development (CEED) at Allegheny College
Read Between the Signs, 2002-Ongoing
Francis Cape, The Other End of the Line, 2010
Olafur Eliasson, Green River, 1998-2001
Colin Matthes, Surveillance Camera Birdhouse, 2008
Max Estes, Your Bicycle Misses You, 2008
The Idea Fund:
Bill Davenport, Idea Fund Recipient – Bill’s Junk
Zach Moser, Idea Fund Recipient – Public Boat Project
Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) / Matthew Coolidge
The Waffle Shop / Jon Rubin
Situated in a concrete front yard on Fondren Drive, just beyond the intersection with Airline, the Porta Hedge (Birder’s Retreat) is currently providing one University Park household some privacy and a bit of evergreen to look at out their window. From the Porta Hedge’s concealed interior space, individuals also have the opportunity to observe neighborhood birds (weather and temperatures permitting.)
Drive-by visitors are encouraged. Visits to the interior of the Porta Hedge are by appointment only. If you would like to spend some time inside the Porta Hedge, please contact Justin Shull to schedule a visit.
This 7 foot artificial evergreen was donated by a resident of The Village, a housing development on Amesbury Drive in Dallas, Texas. It is now planted in what was a bare spot next to a bush and an air conditioning unit.
Cost-benefit analysis from Caterpillar straight to you. This advertisement can be found on the back cover of the January 1975 National Geographic.
In his MAKE Magazine Blog post on the Terrestrial Shrub Rover, How-Not-To: Be Seen, Matt Mets brings attention to Monty Python’s darkly hilarious comedy sketch How Not To Be Seen with its camera (audience) standing in for a military firing squad positioned at the intersection of a field and a northern European wood.
The obscurity promised by the woods reminds one of the populations that went into hiding in the European forests during World War II. Yet, instead of seeking refuge from the dense forest, the targets in How Not To Be Seen remain in the cultivated and exposed fields, vulnerable even behind a bush. As we laugh, these fields balloon with the histories of destruction attended by cultivation and I think of Anselm Kiefer’s enforced perspective lines straining to keep his fields from exploding off of his canvases.
Anselm Kiefer, Aperiatur Terra et Germinet Salvatorem, 2005-2006, Oil, acrylic, emulsion and shellac on canvas. 110 1/4 x 299 3/16 in. (280 x 760 cm). Copyright the artist. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography. Courtesy Jay Jopling/ White Cube (London).
Last spring, Art in America assistant editor and art critic Brian Boucher visited the first MFA Thesis Exhibition at Rutgers’ Mason Gross Galleries and spoke with each of us artists about our work in the show. From that visit came the following essay, and although it was originally intended to accompany an exhibition catalog, for now I am publishing the essay online with a forthcoming PDF version for download.
Thanks to Brian for his generosity and insight.
An impressive group of young artists is sent out into the world this spring from the Mason Gross Masters of Fine Art program, and it was my pleasure to visit their thesis exhibition this spring.
From the improvised, portable, even disposable paper and cardboard creations of Eric Clausen and Jerry McGuire to meticulously crafted works by Justin Shull and Kevin McCabe, their output varies formally. The emotional tenor of their work, too, ranges widely, from the wry humor of Clausen and McCabe to searching and sincere investigations by Laura Hamilton and Ilse Murdock.
But clear themes emerge, most notably an engagement with ideas of nature and the environment, either re-creating it in paper and cardboard (McGuire), fostering care and observation of it by a mobile, 21st-century naturalist (Shull), asking how one’s practice can express concern for its care (Murdock) or taking its forms as entry points into studies in the nature of space and time (Chris Manzione). Several of these artists also plumb pop culture, whether looking at the narrative conventions of television and film, as in the videos of Ozgur Gungor, or wringing emotional depth out of board game designs, as in sculptures and paintings by McCabe.
Eric Clausen self-effacingly presents his works on paper, taped to the gallery walls, as the doodling of a disaffected schoolchild. His installation is complete with a schoolroom chair-and-desk defaced with a drawing of Superman (with an E in place of the S) and a Metallica logo, and a suitcase decorated with a flame motif, the Pandora’s box that has unleashed this blaze of irreverence. Hundreds of sketches on notebook paper, memo pad sheets and the like hang on all the gallery walls, some of them falling off, with deliberate nonchalance, to rest on the floor. The product of months of endless drawing, there are so many miscellaneous ideas and images that a visitor asking the artist what circumstance gave birth to any particular one is just as likely to get a shrug and a smile as an explanation.
Stretching in just a few inches from light-hearted self-aggrandizement (“Super Eric!”) to wry psychologizing (a reclining figure imagines a tsunami, over the caption “foreshadowing imminent destruction”) to bizarre faux logos (the swooping words INSTANT CLONING appear like a dystopic sci-fi advertisement), Clausen’s drawings plumb his own restless psyche for inspiration and uncover a bottomless well of jokes without punch lines, punch lines without setups, dinosaurs, aliens and superheroes, notes to self and bright geometries. Themes like “seven ways to fuck yourself” and “nine things that piss off [fill in classmate’s name]“ reflect, perhaps, the dark sensibility of a group of freshly credentialed young artists about to be set loose in a society that can barely keep its bankers employed.
In a series of modest but very funny short videos, Ozgur Gungor explores conventions of audiovisual storytelling. Several segments, each introduced by a portentous title in white text on black screen, deftly combine sound and image to signal to the viewer that emotions are called for, but the visuals are comically content-free. “Unveil the mystery” introduces a segment with a billowing curtain of electric blue static, accompanied by an arrangement of strings and tympani that is the cinematic signifier of suspense. “It is going to be a grand new day,” proclaims the text preceding shots of window blinds in a domestic interior, backed by discordant, high-pitched drones. These sounds give way to a lively string quartet playing staccato as we see trees through the window of a moving car or train. Then we’re back for a few moments to the homey setting and a neat little musical flourish that suggests a happy ending, as though a protagonist had gone from an anxious morning at home to a drive in the country and returned with greater peace of mind.
In another short piece, Gungor creates short loops of roller skaters at a popular spot in Central Park over bits of minimal, funky, or otherwise repetitive music to create robotlike caricatures of spontaneous, free expression. And finally, in a delightfully economical summation of the nature of the loop that structures all his works, a black screen displays the words THE END, subtitled with the teaser text COMING SOON.
The photographs in Laura Hamilton’s series “The Perception of Home” explore a family history of fear and violence in an understated voice. Sunny domestic interiors with children’s toys and simple furnishings feature the artist and her mother, daughter and fiancé. Through skillful composition, she creates images that unfold as we look at them; for example, a slightly unkempt bedroom scene, with open dresser drawers and rumpled sheets, gradually divulges, at its left edge, the back of a man seated on the bed. The jolt of suddenly seeing the figure is like that of abruptly finding you’re not alone—and maybe not safe.
In another photo, an image of a brightly sunlit bedroom gains an ominous tone as one notices the shadow of a pair of feet just outside the door, perhaps those of an eavesdropper, perhaps those of someone hiding. A scene of a young mother (the artist) cleaning up a child’s toys becomes shocking when a noose looms into view in an upper corner (I had to have it pointed out to me, though now it’s plain as day). The artist’s control over the viewer’s perception is striking, and the gradual emergence of the signs of trouble is a fitting analogue to the way that a family might at first seem harmonious and placid, and only reluctantly reveal a truer picture.
Chris Manzione offered four sculptures inspired by the research of Rutgers scientist and professor Michael Leyton, who, in books like Symmetry, Causality, Mind, argues that shapes of objects aid the mind in recreating past events. “Asymmetry is the memory that processes leave on objects,” as the artist explained it to me. In Leyton’s words, shape is time: Ingredients of the static present, in Leyton’s view, allow us to recapitulate time. For Manzione, trees became one locus for the study of shape as evidence of time.
Resting on the floor was a 6-foot-high, monstrous, many-horned colossus assembled from several combined casts of a single tree form, painted gray and then sprayed with rust (another indicator of time’s passage). It occupies a convincing place, especially when dropped into a white-cube space for maximum contrast, somewhere between space alien, hybrid rhinoceros, and runaway plant life. Spanning about ten feet over a corner nearby, high enough that one could stand underneath it, was a giant, seemingly organic shape, the same white as the walls. The form was based on a tree’s burl, evidence of a disease quickly overtaking part of the tree’s form. It was as though the very gallery had become diseased, and as though architectural time were racing forward.
In a Naumanesque gesture, Manzione created a cruciform impression in one gallery wall that mimics a concavity in his own chest. On the adjoining wall was a portal-like, roughly diamond-shaped opening about six feet high and a couple of feet wide that suggested a body-sized version of the chest imprint, as though the gallery, at its own scale, were mirroring Manzione’s anatomical quirk.
Kevin McCabe’s fearsomely labor-intensive small sculptures recreate in painted fiberboard objects of pop and high culture that share a measure of the abject. On a plinth stood a stack of volumes of Josef Albers’s book Interaction of Color, books whose prints, the artist explained to me, fade over time and thus become useless. On the floor rested an empty cardboard box that would have held, according to the type, “60 CT/3 OZ PKGS” of Sunshine brand Cheez-It snack crackers, but that now holds only plaster reproductions of Styrofoam packaging peanuts. On another white plinth rested a faux box for Milton Bradley’s game Taboo (“the game of unspeakable fun!”), complete with weathered corners, color scheme of unspeakable teal-by-blue and pink-by-red, and goofy line drawing of a face that is seemingly both embarrassed and self-satisfied.
McCabe’s offerings refer to Andy Warhol’s 1964 Brillo boxes, painted-wood replicas of supermarket cartons of soap pads (and other products). Those canonical works, in turn, reach back to Duchamp’s readymades, everyday objects that the artist transformed into art by designating them as such. Writing about Warhol, philosopher and art critic Arthur Danto once claimed that the Brillo box asked (among other questions), What is the difference between an art object and a non-art object when they are visually indistinguishable? New York Times art critic Ken Johnson later pointed out that Warhol’s Brillo boxes are in fact fairly easily distinguishable from the real thing, since on close inspection they are obviously wood, not corrugated cardboard. By re-creating the books, boxes and game board with stunning exactitude, McCabe brings a new twist to the philosophical and art historical issue, as if finally creating objects that pose the question Danto attributed to Warhol.
McCabe’s richest work in the thesis show, in my view, was a painting that reproduces at 1:1 scale the board of the Parker Brothers’ board game Sorry!, with its snazzy ‘70s design, its brightly colored pathways and characteristic sans-serif font, all imprinted on my mind from my own childhood. The more I studied this humble painting, with its loving reproduction of a truly insignificant object, the more it prompted the question, Who is apologizing? The game? The artwork? The artist? And, in any case, apologizing for what?
In his large paper-and-cardboard sculpture, Jerry McGuire imagines a castoff world made entirely of paper, a paradise of corrugated cardboard. His sprawling and towering landscape, articulated in minute detail, invited my inner adolescent to explore its dark recesses. In its great bulk, it seemed to spring from a drive like the one that pushed Richard Dreyfuss’s character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind to create his Devil’s Tower-style mountain.
McGuire offered at once a fanciful simile of reality and a dark suggestion that even our nature is made up of our own trash. Happily situated near Justin Shull’s vision of a manmade hedge and of artificial trees being reintroduced to the wild, the ensemble brought to mind Radiohead’s song “Fake Plastic Trees” for its redundancy of fakeness piled upon artificiality. There is, in McGuire’s work, certainly much joy taken in creation and in the transformation of discarded materials into an occasion for amazement. Even his discarded cigarette butts, which I at first took to be real butts in a fake landscape, are meticulously crafted from paper. Shredded green sheets become soft, bright grass; crumpled ATM receipts morph into gravel. But elsewhere, even a moment of colorful beauty in the landscape brings us back to a darker side of McGuire’s work: a group of brightly colored butterflies in a tiny recess recalls, the artist told me, images of that creature in traditional vanitas still lifes, where they serve as a sign of the transitory nature of beauty and of all things.
Also taking on concerns of natural and man-made are Ilse Murdock’s paintings, which grow from the question of how to develop a painting practice that expresses 21st-century environmental concerns. One small study explores in a touchingly literal fashion a desire to make the most economical use of the artist’s materials. Murdock uses the bottom edge of the canvas as a palette, leaving the gobs of unmixed paint to become part of the composition, like a confession or a carbon offset-style program for unused pigment and oil.
Murdock’s larger canvases are expressionistic still lifes of flowers, painted with a visually mesmerizing variation of surface and brushwork, the flowers resting in seemingly crumpled clear plastic soda and water bottles that are stripped of their labels (a fitting method of recycling). The surfaces of the large paintings are adorned, or perhaps scarred, with studio trash and various consumer flotsam—packaging materials, plastic bags, and a Styrofoam plate (a keen echo of Julian Schnabel’s crockery). Murdock thus adds to her paintings, depicting some of nature’s most beautiful and ephemeral offerings, examples of humankind’s most embarrassing and doubtless permanent remainders.
Justin Shull’s work playfully plumbs the boundaries between nature and artifice. For his Porta-Hedge project, he outfitted a twenty-foot trailer as a camouflaged portable naturalist’s study, its outside lined with faux fir branches taken from artificial Christmas trees and wreaths. Inside is a meticulously worked wood-paneled room, its low ceiling requiring the visitor to crouch, with a diminutive desk at one end stocked with National Audubon Society field guides to trees, wildflowers, rocks and minerals and the like. With a wicked grin, the artist mentioned to me that it could also include books on American cars or architecture, other elements of the “environment” that an observer might study. Two tiny, caged live birds keep the naturalist company in his study, which is equipped with several small windows at various heights for observation of the surroundings.
In a cracked and funny tribute to Joseph Beuys’s 7,000 Oaks project, Shull has undertaken 7,000 Evergreens, a campaign to introduce artificial Christmas trees into the wild throughout North America; a computer in the gallery displayed a website devoted to the effort, which sardonically echoes nature-management programs and efforts to rehabilitate and reintroduce endangered species. A slide show displays images of the trees sprouting in the unlikeliest places, for example jutting out of a wall in P.S.1 museum’s courtyard, or poking out of a curb in New Hampshire. A tally indicates the project’s progress to date. Though most of the images show the trees looking amusingly incongruous, the project seems to ask the larger question, Does anyone notice when nature is paved over? Is modern mankind’s relationship to the natural environment so diminished, so mediated and distant, that a fake Christmas tree could hide in plain sight among its actual counterparts?
If so, we may be screwed. But artists like Shull and his colleagues may help us preserve some self-awareness, and a shred of humor, as we kiss any natural world goodbye.
New York City