Raqs Media Collective
In the hands of contemporary artists, the study of humanity's engagement with the earth's surface becomes a riddle best solved in experimental fashion. The exhibition presents a panoptic view of this new practice, through a wide range of mediums including sound and video installations, photography, sculpture, and experimental cartography. The approaches used by the artists featured range from the poetic to the empirical. The show is a traveling exhibition organized by iCI (Independent Curators International), New York.
Curated by Nato Thompson
Organized and circulated by iCI (Independent Curators International), New York
The Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI)
The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP)
kanarinka (Catherine D!Ignazio)
Julia Meltzer and David Thorne
Raqs Media Collective
Daniel Tucker, project organizer
"Another step in the ongoing quest for social energies not yet recognized as art, Experimental Geography brings together a significant group of artists and collectives looking seriously at land use- -urban and rural, local and global. Leaving behind the earthworks of the past, and reviving the line-blurring process that defined art and lived experience in 1960s conceptualism, much of this work is not about geography but exist within geography, exploring the politics and infrastructures that can either change or stall the world."
-Lucy Lippard, author of The Lure of the Local
Geography benefits from the study of specific histories, sites, and memories. Every estuary, landfill, and cul-de-sac has a story to tell. The task of the geographer is to alert us to what is directly in front of us, while the task of the experimental geographer—an amalgam of scientist, artist, and explorer—is to do so in a manner that deploys aesthetics, ambiguity, poetry, and a dash of empiricism. This exhibition explores the distinctions between geographical study and artistic experience of the earth, as well as the juncture where the two realms collide (and possibly make a new field altogether).
The manifestations of “experimental geography” (a term coined by geographer Trevor Paglen in 2002) run the gamut of contemporary art practice today: sewn cloth cities that spill out of suitcases, bus tours through water treatment centers, performers climbing up the sides of buildings, and sound art of the breaths exhaled in running the evacuation route of Boston. In the hands of contemporary artists, the study of humanity’s engagement with the earth’s topography becomes a riddle best solved in experimental fashion. The exhibition presents a panoptic view of this new practice, through a wide range of mediums including interactive computer units, sound and video installations, photography, sculpture, and experimental cartography.
The approaches used by the artists featured in Experimental Geography range from a poetic conflation of humanity and the earth to more empirical studies of our planet. In 2002, Francis Alÿs, in collaboration with Rafael Ortega, Cuauhtémoc Medina, and 500 volunteers, created a human comb to move a sand dune outside Lima, Peru. Although the actual displacement was infinitesimal, its metaphorical resonance was colossal.
Creating projects that are more empirically minded, the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), a research organization, explores the nature and extent of human interaction with the earth's surface, embracing a multidisciplinary approach to fulfilling its mission. Using skill sets culled from the toolbox of geography, CLUI forces a reading of the American landscape (which includes man-made islands, submerged cities, traffic in Los Angeles, and the broadcast antennas in the San Gabriel Mountains) that refamiliarizes the viewer with the overlooked details of their everyday experience.
Experimental Geography is curated by Nato Thompson, curator at Creative Time in New York. It is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, co-published by ICI and Melville House, that includes essays by Thompson, Jeffrey Kastner, and Trevor Paglen.
About the guest curator, Nato Thompson:
Nato Thompson is a curator at Creative Time, New York, as well as a writer and activist. Formerly at MASS MoCA, Thompson has curated numerous exhibitions including Ahistoric Occasion: Artists Making History, Becoming Animal, and The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere. Thompson has also written for publications including Cabinet Magazine, Art Journal, tema celeste, and the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest.
Image: Francis Alÿs, The Making of Lima, 2002. Single-channel video projection with color and sound, 15 min., 37 sec. Courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery, New York
Media Contact Information: Ruth Jacobs
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