Sunday, September 1, 2013

EGO / ECO: environmental art for collective consciousness @ CSUF

Yesterday, I went to the opening reception for the latest exhibit at Cal State Fullerton's Begovich Gallery, called "ego / eco: environmental art for collective consciousness."  Here's a little virtual tour of the exhibit, which is totally worth checking out for yourself.

Here's what the curators, Allison Town and Emily D.A. Tyler had to say about the exhibit:

"ego / eco: environmental art for collective consciousness invites viewers to engage in a global conversation about human relationships with the earth--encouraging individual reflection and collective environmental mindfulness.  We hope that viewers will be empowered to evaluate and improve their own ego (self) and eco (environment) partnerships in their lives through self-evaluation, sustainable practices, community involvement, and the strength of collective consciousness.

The term "collective consciousness" is used by sociologists to explain how autonomous individuals identify with a larger group through shared beliefs and attitudes.  We live in an era where mobile technologies and social media outlets make this kind of sharing exceedingly easy.  The level of anonymity, mobility, and speed with which people access information can drastically divert a person's ability to focus their individual attention and effectiveness.  So what does our contemporary collective consciousness look like?Is it in our power to reform?  We propose that in order to remediate a collective consciousness, it is essential to advocate the importance of human relationships and community.

ego / eco encourages commitment to the slower digestion of ideas, real action and participation rather than apathy.  While the gallery space functions to enhance viewers understanding of collective consciousness in regard to global environmental sustainability, the artist-in-residency collaboration and associated programming events generate the means for community engagement and meaningful action, which extend beyond the gallery setting and into our local environment."

The first pieces that caught my eye were the "Green Patriot" posters.  Simple.  Urgent.  Being environmentally-conscious is patriotic!

I continued walking through the exhibit, taking pictures and jotting down descriptions of the pieces, some of which I have reproduced here for your viewing pleasure...

Esther Traugot, Seeds (Fullerton Arboretum), 2013

Esther Traugot, Seeds (Fullerton Arboretum), 2013

Esther Traugot caringly and expertly crochets thread coverings around reclaimed objects of nature -- in this case, seeds collected from the Fullerton Arboretum.  The "gilded" objects are presented as a precious archive, suggesting a preserved vitality that reflects the artist's interest in investigating how people choose to negotiate with the natural world.  While marveling at her meticulous process, one is guided to walk a fine line between the notions of nurturing and controlling nature--just as the artist sees herself as an intrinsic part of the natural landscape as well as an observer of it.

Chris Jordan, Gyre, 2009

Chris Jordan's "Gyre" depicts 2.4 million pieces of plastic, equal to the estimated number of pounds of plastic pollution that enter the world's oceans every hour.  All of the plastic in this image was collected from the Pacific Ocean.  Chris Jordan's large-scale compositions are confrontational and force simultaneous interpretation of representation and abstraction.  A visceral connection is forged with viewers as the uncomfortable beauty in Jordan's Running the Numbers series makes visible our contributions to an unsustainable lifestyle.  Based on annual statistics, Jordan's compositions break down these unquantifiable numbers, cleverly depicting an American "landscape" revealing the unsustainability of our contemporary mass culture, in which we are all so dangerously complicit.

Fallen Fruit (David Burns, Matias Viegener & Austin Young), 2004

The Fallen Fruit collaboration began in 2004 with the mapping of fruit trees growing in and extending across boundaries of public spaces in Los Angeles and other American cities with goals to cultivate a vision of community engagement, regional aesthetics, social awareness and biodiversity.  Fallen Fruit's participatory projects have included: Public Fruit Jams, Nocturnal Fruit Forages, Neughborhood Fruit Tours, and Public Fruit Adoptions.  The artists of Fallen Fruit investigate urban space, the concept of neighborhood and community, examining the nature in and the nature of the city.

Double Standard (video), 2008

In a clever two-channel video format, Double Standard uses unedited documentary footage of a Silver Lake, CA Neighborhood Fruit Forage screened with a text overlay of public comments responding to the same event footage edited by PBS and posted on Youtube.  The comments create an alternative, cynical narrative to the events, with crude, homophobic and racist comments mixed in with a few acute observations.  The literal juxtaposition between reality and "real-time" or action and commentary challenges the authenticity of the participant's or viewer's experience.  The slippery space between these two narratives at the correspondence between the pubic walking pin the tour and the anonymous public of the internet.

Alison Moritsugu, Landscape with Waterfall, 1997

In traditional landscape painting, the confines of the canvas and frame creates a unique relationship with a viewer.  The canvas becomes a "window" into the natural world.  Notice how Alison Morgitsugu fragments her compositions, forcing a viewer away from static spectatorship and "dominant gaze."  Moritsugu paints timeless and romantic compositions juxtaposed with underlying themes of conquest and environmental concern.  The physicality of these painted "trophies" offer viewers a multitude of vantage points, of both parts and whole, while also suggesting a more honest connection with nature.

Vaughn Bell, Pocket Biospheres for Adoption, 2004-ongoing

I adopted this biosphere!

Each of us would like to have our own little piece of earth.  With a Pocket Biosphere you can take your little mini-wilderness everywhere.  Pocket Biospheres are available for adoption in a performance created by the artist.  Participants sign an adoption form, co-signed by the artist, stating that they will take responsibility for the biosphere.  They then become the caretakers of their own Pocket Biosphere along with their copies of the adoption papers and caretaker booklet.

Jacci Den Hartog, Trip to Big Sur, 2009

Jacci Den Hartog's work has been described by Los Angeles art critic Tom Knechtel as "extravagantly merging the combustible energy of baroque sculpture with the meditative space of Chinese landscape painting."  Den Hartog presents viewers with a complex space in which to meander, to enter into and experience.  This dreamlike and gravity-defying calligraphic landscape invites the eye to wander.  The Chinese phrase woyou or "wandering while lying down" expresses this ideal.  Den Hartog's perceptual investigations are also informed by the 1960s and 70s California Light and Space and Land Art movements.  Through phenomenological vocabularies, her work gives strong resonance to the act of experiencing the California landscape as opposed to merely its literal representation.

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Architect's Brother series, 1993-2005

The ParkeHarrisons use a hybrid of artistic disciplines: painting, sculpture, performance art and photography.  Blurring the boundaries of these traditional mediums reinforces their message.  The photochemical photogravure process, traditionally used at the turn of the 20th century for mass-reproduction of photographs in books and periodicals, is representative of the over-taxation of the earth.  Props used in support of the narratives are either hand-made or found objects.  The ParkeHarrison's process is as labor intensive as the Everyman's task is arduous and after 15 years, and in the face of overwhelming circumstances, they do no give up.

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Architect's Brother series, 1993-2005

Developed over a span of 15 years, husband and wife team, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, have produced a unique photographic series based upon staged environmental performances.  In their artist statement, the ParkeHarrisons characterize the performance element as "visual improvisation that unfolds choreographically."  The protagonist of The Architect's Brother series, the Everyman (played by Robert ParkeHarrison), functions as a theatrical device pulling an audience into the surreal constructed landscapes through spirited and gestural open narrative.  His earnest activities address issues of environmental degradation, suggesting a role as the earth's protector or healer as well as mankind's responsibility to remediate damages.

Newton and Helen Harrison, Portable Orchards Survival Piece #5, 1972-73

Newton Harrison and Helen Mayer Harrison, pioneers in the Eco-Art movement, have been researching and creating work together since 1969.  They are widely recognized for their commitment to multi-disciplinary collaboration and activist art that utilizes a whole systems perspective.  They world along side biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners, and other artists to initiate dialogues, uncover ideas and propose solutions to support biodiversity and community development.  Their work also involves extensive mapping and documentation of their proposals, which manifests in artistic form.

There was even an eco-fashion show, featuring plants from the Fullerton Arboretum!

The exhibit runs through october 4th.  Click HERE for hours and info.  Ch-ch-check it out!

1 comment:

  1. Great pics. I'm writing a paper for one of my art classes and was looking for some images from the Begovich gallery to reference and reflect on.... Have to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I googled one of the artists and I recognized this blog from my freshman year of English. I'm happy to see the blog's still going strong. ´◡`