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Urban Echoes: Wind, River, Trees, Clouds, Chickens, and Orange
6/12/2004 - 7/17/2004
Photos, digital prints and videos that contemplate nature and landscapes from an urban perspective. Artists include: Monika Bravo (Colombia), Bibi Calderado (Argentina), María Fernanda Cardoso (Colombia), Francisco Domínguez (USA), Felipe Dulzaides (Cuba), María Elvira Escallón (Colombia), Sean McFarland (USA), and Armando Rascón (USA). Curated by Carolina Ponce de León.
  Galería Exhibitions C_Scape: Sites of Cultural (Ex)Change <2004>
Digital Mural Project: María Elvira Escallón <2004>
Divinamente: Thirteen Artists from Colombia <2004>
Digital Mural Project: Sergio De La Torre <2004>
Transmission Mission <2004>
Urban Echoes: Wind, River, Trees, Clouds, Chickens, and Orange <2004>
The Youth Rock Summer Laboratory <2004>
Digital Mural Project: Youth & Public Media <2004>
Paradigms Lost <2004>
Digital Mural Project: San Francisco Print Collective <2004>
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CURATORIAL INFORMATIONSTATEMENT ARTIST LIST  
Urban Echoes: Wind, River, Trees, Clouds, Chickens, and Orange
By Carolina Ponce de León

This exhibition brings together a group of videos, photography, and digital prints, by artists both local and from Latin America (Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, México, and the US). In this selection, each artist references nature or landscapes, and reveals the wide range of paradoxes inherent to idealized views of nature. These works revisit the traditional genres of the still life and the landscape, while exploring the forces that shape our understanding of nature, self, place, and cultural history. Some of the works use the metaphorical power of nature to evoke narratives of loss and displacement. Others allude to the natural world using personal poetics and humor to comment on urban life. Others see the landscape critically, unearthing the politics of place. Whether it is the romanticized landscape of our ancestors, farm labor struggles, or geographies worn by recurring histories of migration, the artworks featured in Urban Echoes reveal how nature’s call to even the most urban/e of artists can resonate with undertones at once critical and poetic.

Monika Bravo was part of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s World Views studio program at the World Trade Center. For three and a half months, she and 14 other artists shared a studio on the 92nd Floor of Tower One. September 10, 2001 (2001) is a five-minute montage of the footage Bravo recorded of an unusual thunderstorm rolling toward and over her studio on that day, an eerie foreshadowing of the tragic events to come. This piece is a recording of the sublime beauty of the natural world seen through post-9/11 eyes, weary of a world with no simple images of “natural events.” The film is dedicated to Michael Richards, a Jamaican sculptor who was the only artist from her program to die in the attack.

In Situation #1 (2000) , Calderaro held the camera with a harness tied to 50 feet of rope and then threw it into the East River in New York, fishing for an image in the center of a city that is an arsenal of images. Although she uses an instrument of extreme precision such as a camera, she subjects it to the chances of destiny. The camera moves through the water without eye guidance, erasing any subjective trace and transforming the film into an abstract underwater landscape.

Calderaro uses the camera to reinforce her immigrant point of view. Her short abstract films are about landscape as a psychological construct. In Double Distance (1998–2000) , Calderaro places the viewer in the landscape. Traveling on a back of a horse, she takes viewers on a journey through building urgency, through sounds of urban public spaces mismatched with rural scenes of children running along side the horse. The “double distance” is one in which the concepts of belonging and identity are caught between leaving and going “home.”

María Fernanda Cardoso and Ross Harley’s video, Chickenface (2003) , plays on the human fascination with nature, an allure that can involve both attraction and repulsion. There is also a strong humorous element. The animals portrayed begin as recognizable and seemingly innocuous animals, while sharply revealing that they are not what we have previously defined them to be. The natural eccentricity of each animal verges on the surreal.

Sacramento photographer and community activist, Francisco Dominguez, has a longstanding history creating powerful images that give voice to the rights of the indigenous and Chicana/o communities. Got Lunch? (2004) uses satire to remind us of the other side to our idealization of the California landscape: the industry of agriculture. This print honors the migration of indigenous workers into the fields of California and their fight for social justice, labor rights and issues related to water, pesticide, and health care.

Dominguez’s No Reconquista in My Name (2004) is done in the best tradition of the Chicano political poster. The piece speaks of the multilayered and interrelated political landscapes that connect us globally.

Felipe Dulzaides’ intimate videos document personal actions that set up simple situations —like following an orange with a video camera as it rolls down San Francisco streets— that resonate with mischief and parody. Following An Orange (1999) , a minute-long document, is a poetic response to the fleeting and contingent circumstances and quirks of everyday life.

The digital prints, Departure/Arrival: Sayulita, Nayarit, Sur (2003) and Departure/Arrival: Devil’s Hwy., Arizona/California, Hwy. 98, Norte (2003) by Armando Rascón, show one of the busiest unofficial border crossing traffic points in the Southwest: the so-called "Devil's Highway" along Arizona-California Highways 98 and Interstate 8, located between a quarter to nine miles north of the US/Mexico border, respectively; and in the tropical fishing village of Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico. While showing postcard perfect views, these landscapes are immersed in the politics and human stories of immigration. The two prints are video stills from Rascón’s Niño Perdido, 2003, a two-channel DVD projection piece.

María Elvira Escallón’s photographic series, Nueva Flora (2002) , documents interventions done directly to native trees in Colombian forests. Tree trunks or branches are carved into traditional furniture or architectural forms by an expert wood-carver. The almost surreal carvings assign an alternative function and identity to a living body —the tree is transformed into a consumer good before it even stops being a tree.

Sean McFarland’s installation of miniature landscapes (2002-2003) comprises photographic souvenirs of travels by land and taken from the window of a car with a disposable camera, without ever accessing the landscape physically. However, because of their size and ability to translate place and time into an object, they have become amulets charged with memories of places traveled and left behind. McFarland carries all of them in his pockets, a personal rite that brings to mind the stones or pouches of earth from their native lands that displaced indigenous people carry with them to remain spiritually connected in their roots.

His urban landscapes series entitled, Re-Landscapes (2004), question the objective character of the camera by making it an instrument of subjectivity. McFarland goes around the city and photographs vistas from parks, rooftops and sidewalks. After they are printed at a lab, he cuts them up and creates miniature three-dimensional models of re-configured urban landscapes, sometimes combing different places. He then re-photographs them, pushing the boundaries of scale and the contextualization of place until they are no longer documents of urban realities but of constructed memories.

Notes:Urban Echoes: Wind, River, Trees, Clouds, Chickens, and Orange
By Carolina Ponce de León

This exhibition brings together a group of videos, photography, and digital prints, by artists both local and from Latin America (Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, México, and the US). In this selection, each artist references nature or landscapes, and reveals the wide range of paradoxes inherent to idealized views of nature. These works revisit the traditional genres of the still life and the landscape, while exploring the forces that shape our understanding of nature, self, place, and cultural history. Some of the works use the metaphorical power of nature to evoke narratives of loss and displacement. Others allude to the natural world using personal poetics and humor to comment on urban life. Others see the landscape critically, unearthing the politics of place. Whether it is the romanticized landscape of our ancestors, farm labor struggles, or geographies worn by recurring histories of migration, the artworks featured in Urban Echoes reveal how nature’s call to even the most urban/e of artists can resonate with undertones at once critical and poetic.

Monika Bravo was part of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s World Views studio program at the World Trade Center. For three and a half months, she and 14 other artists shared a studio on the 92nd Floor of Tower One. September 10, 2001 (2001) is a five-minute montage of the footage Bravo recorded of an unusual thunderstorm rolling toward and over her studio on that day, an eerie foreshadowing of the tragic events to come. This piece is a recording of the sublime beauty of the natural world seen through post-9/11 eyes, weary of a world with no simple images of “natural events.” The film is dedicated to Michael Richards, a Jamaican sculptor who was the only artist from her program to die in the attack.

In Situation #1 (2000) , Calderaro held the camera with a harness tied to 50 feet of rope and then threw it into the East River in New York, fishing for an image in the center of a city that is an arsenal of images. Although she uses an instrument of extreme precision such as a camera, she subjects it to the chances of destiny. The camera moves through the water without eye guidance, erasing any subjective trace and transforming the film into an abstract underwater landscape.

Calderaro uses the camera to reinforce her immigrant point of view. Her short abstract films are about landscape as a psychological construct. In Double Distance (1998–2000) , Calderaro places the viewer in the landscape. Traveling on a back of a horse, she takes viewers on a journey through building urgency, through sounds of urban public spaces mismatched with rural scenes of children running along side the horse. The “double distance” is one in which the concepts of belonging and identity are caught between leaving and going “home.”

María Fernanda Cardoso and Ross Harley’s video, Chickenface (2003) , plays on the human fascination with nature, an allure that can involve both attraction and repulsion. There is also a strong humorous element. The animals portrayed begin as recognizable and seemingly innocuous animals, while sharply revealing that they are not what we have previously defined them to be. The natural eccentricity of each animal verges on the surreal.

Sacramento photographer and community activist, Francisco Dominguez, has a longstanding history creating powerful images that give voice to the rights of the indigenous and Chicana/o communities. Got Lunch? (2004) uses satire to remind us of the other side to our idealization of the California landscape: the industry of agriculture. This print honors the migration of indigenous workers into the fields of California and their fight for social justice, labor rights and issues related to water, pesticide, and health care.

Dominguez’s No Reconquista in My Name (2004) is done in the best tradition of the Chicano political poster. The piece speaks of the multilayered and interrelated political landscapes that connect us globally.

Felipe Dulzaides’ intimate videos document personal actions that set up simple situations —like following an orange with a video camera as it rolls down San Francisco streets— that resonate with mischief and parody. Following An Orange (1999) , a minute-long document, is a poetic response to the fleeting and contingent circumstances and quirks of everyday life.

The digital prints, Departure/Arrival: Sayulita, Nayarit, Sur (2003) and Departure/Arrival: Devil’s Hwy., Arizona/California, Hwy. 98, Norte (2003) by Armando Rascón, show one of the busiest unofficial border crossing traffic points in the Southwest: the so-called "Devil's Highway" along Arizona-California Highways 98 and Interstate 8, located between a quarter to nine miles north of the US/Mexico border, respectively; and in the tropical fishing village of Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico. While showing postcard perfect views, these landscapes are immersed in the politics and human stories of immigration. The two prints are video stills from Rascón’s Niño Perdido, 2003, a two-channel DVD projection piece.

María Elvira Escallón’s photographic series, Nueva Flora (2002) , documents interventions done directly to native trees in Colombian forests. Tree trunks or branches are carved into traditional furniture or architectural forms by an expert wood-carver. The almost surreal carvings assign an alternative function and identity to a living body —the tree is transformed into a consumer good before it even stops being a tree.

Sean McFarland’s installation of miniature landscapes (2002-2003) comprises photographic souvenirs of travels by land and taken from the window of a car with a disposable camera, without ever accessing the landscape physically. However, because of their size and ability to translate place and time into an object, they have become amulets charged with memories of places traveled and left behind. McFarland carries all of them in his pockets, a personal rite that brings to mind the stones or pouches of earth from their native lands that displaced indigenous people carry with them to remain spiritually connected in their roots.

His urban landscapes series entitled, Re-Landscapes (2004), question the objective character of the camera by making it an instrument of subjectivity. McFarland goes around the city and photographs vistas from parks, rooftops and sidewalks. After they are printed at a lab, he cuts them up and creates miniature three-dimensional models of re-configured urban landscapes, sometimes combing different places. He then re-photographs them, pushing the boundaries of scale and the contextualization of place until they are no longer documents of urban realities but of constructed memories.

Notes:
Portions of the artist texts were written with the assistance of Aimee Le Duc.