Benevolent New World, AT Kearney, Times Square, New York
Philosopher and political activist, Felix Guattari, asserted that in order to confront capitalism’s effects on the domain of ecology on everyday life, society should look to the working methods of artists. A.T. Kearney’s inaugural art exhibition, Benevolent New World, curated by Heidi Lee, serves as an opportunity for viewers to be inspired by emerging international artists based in New York whose artistic output explores contemporary notions of environmental sustainability and issues related to man’s relationship with nature. Sustainability has been at the top of the global environmental agenda for more than a decade, but an understanding of ecological responsibility is only now beginning to have a visible impact on society and culture.
Sustainability is defined as the capacity to endure. It has become a wide-ranging term that can be applied to almost every facet of life on earth from local, to a global scale and over various time periods. Jude Broughan‘s work employs multiple processes and materials to create fragmented appearances that cast human idiosyncrasies in a subtly celebratory light. Her sculptures, paintings, photographs, mixed-media constructions, and books trace a fascination with ideas around travel and home, sustenance and growth, fallibility and imperfection.
Jessica Cannon‘s paintings explore a psychological landscape that contains personal and cultural experiences. She is interested in the conflict between ‘fight or flight’ as competing impulses in response to chaotic events be they global disasters, epidemics or climate change. In creating each work she asks the question “How do we engage with the issues that overwhelm us or seek escape through physical or fantastical experience?”
Karen Fitzgerald‘s alchemy-based circular paintings explore issues of entropy and the environment. She has always “felt an extraordinary beauty in the natural world”. She believes that humans have a tendency to see it as an endless resource for human exploitation however. She is “keenly interested in that point when entropy becomes undone”. Her paintings, therefore seek to preserve the natural beauty found using simple materials and organically drawn shapes.
Matt Jensen‘s work has many characteristics of a holistic approach to art and ecology while offering a conceptual critique of the American landscape. His “Nowhere In Manhattan” series, an ongoing project based on his intent to locate, explore, document, promote and protect the last parcels of nowhere remaining within the borough of Manhattan. His serial works are the byproduct of arduous walks and explorations in specific locations. Each location, be it a small mill town or Manhattan, yields a new series that brings an unseen or overlooked layer of the landscape’s history or culture into focus. For the scope of the project, “nowhere” is defined as a place that has been neglected and from this neglect has achieved the status of an organic non-place; a perfect combination of the built and natural.
Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, Sarah Nicole Phillips‘ works on paper utilize recycled envelopes that she receives in the mail that are bills, solicitations or letters. She painstakingly cuts out scraps to meticulously piece them back together to recreate natural landscapes, flora and fauna. She has also created several solar-powered sculptural installations including a public installation during SolarOne’s 2007 Citisol festival at Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Cove Park.
Mexican artist, Diego Anaya’s approach to painting is experimental while using various materials around him that are eco-friendly and/or recyclable. At the core of his activities is the questioning of our relationship towards water, plant life and the animal world, and the function of man in the world.
Graham MacBeth‘s work is concerned with contemplating the nature world through the lens of technology. He has used Google Earth as a painting source which has made it possible to navigate to anywhere in the world in an instant and explore places incredibly difficult to reach such as the summit of the Matterhorn, or locations that are actually impossible to view like an under-sea mountain in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
His paintings are records of these explorations and are attempts to comprehend society’s disconnected relationship with nature as well as his own. Technology is rapidly changing how we communicate and socialize, but it also shaping our attitudes toward the natural world. Our representations of nature, seen in emerging technology, in entertainment, or in art, are records of our complex and changing relationship with it.
Throughout Macbeth’s work imposing natural structures become less of a sublime menace and end up more often awkward, playful, or even lonely like a mountain forgotten about at the bottom of the sea.
On view October 15 – December 22nd, 2010