Considering how Artists Situate

In attempting to pick places to situate my thesis, I have decided that it seems most practical to begin with the Pacific Northwest. I am hoping to be able to visit places and artists in person, and focusing on places I could visit over winter break will be ideal. 

I was having trouble narrowing my topic down further, so I spoke with Jim about how I might focus my space further. He suggested that I consider situating in social spaces, for example: urban, rural, or forest spaces. This was a great jumping off point, but I am hoping to pick a place that allows for more physical variety yet is situated in a certain way of thinking or artist space. For this particular assignment, I will focus on three artists working in three different spaces, and discuss how.

Mary Mattingly

Mary Mattingly is one of my favorite contemporary artists and I know I have mentioned her work in previous posts. She lives and works in New York, making self-sustaining, livable post apocalyptic structures out of the detritus left after an imagined disaster event. She has lived on many of these structures herself for up to 5 years. These structures are built to be movable and are often floating entities, using passive power and human powered processes, alluding to a post-seal level rise utopia. 

Her most recent work, Swale(2015), features a food forest planted on a barge that docks in various harbors around New York City. This piece is a response to laws prohibiting people from growing food on public lands. The crops from the barge are harvested and given away for free to members of surrounding communities. Her work is situated in consideration of waste and utopian imaginations of the future.

Will Willson

Will Wilson is another of my favorite artists who is currently working in a project called AIR (Auto Immune Response) which he describes as “a dialogue with ‘a post-apocalyptic Navajo man’s journey through an uninhabited landscape.” His work includes both photography and installation. One of his pieces includes a 10ft diameter Hogan, traditional Navajo dwelling, built in the style of a greenhouse. Like Mary, he offers a vision of a post apocalyptic future, and build Hogans in various styles in various locations, each containing a strong element of modern technology such as metal structure and electrical wires. 

Wilson is currently King Fellow artist in residence at the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe, NM. His work addresses questions about survival including: “Where has everyone gone? What has occurred to transform the familiar and strange landscape that he wanders? Why has the land become toxic to him? How will he respond, survive, reconnect to the earth?” He uses self-portraiture and performance to address these questions, situating his work with imagery from empty-looking landscapes. The landscapes he chooses are reminiscent of post-apocalyptic imaginations in pop culture.

Nina Elder 

Like Will, Nina also works in Santa Fe New Mexico. Her work attempts to both draw attention to, and confuse perception of, various anthropogenic forces that make our daily lives possible. She creates meticulous charcoal drawings of logged areas using charcoal found on site. Her work addresses the arbiters that facilitate our modern lives built of electricity and running water. She paints power lines and electrical towers into the New Mexico landscape. Her work is deeply situated in place, both in the material she uses and her process of creation.

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