inorganic landscape – images and text

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“Organic” in its current usage tends to be associated with organic farming, pesticide and chemical fertilizer free – the equivalent German term would be the familiar “bio” from the “bio” supermarket range. Food here is produced organically, meaning that it stays true to its biological origin. Organic is, chemically speaking, carbon-based.

Etymologically however, “organic” derives from the Greek “organikos” meaning “relating to organ or instrument.” An organic landscape is a landscape, which is organised. The natural environment surrounding us is a consequence of human activity, whether this is farming, building, mining etc. But the concept itself refers to a construction. Landscape as such is always constituted through a prior representation. There are picturesque landscapes or sublime ones. Landscape consists of a specific format, with a horizon, back- and foreground and certain distinguishable features. An inorganic landscape would be one that lacks this kind of organisation. It would somehow be free of human activity, both physically and conceptually. In an extreme sense, it would be non-biological, without animal or plant matter. It would also present a challenge to the relation we establish with it. Without the structure landscape offers, nature becomes something we cannot relate to.

The three artists GiG presents as part of the current exhibition, inorganic landscape – Stefanie Hofer, Rebecca Partridge and Miriam Salamander – work with this constructed sense of landscape, often employing traditional techniques to make its mediated nature more apparent.

To produce her etchings Miriam Salamander, first disassembles her chosen environment (in this case, the fields and meadows of southern England) into its constituent components (field, line, path, plant) to then reconstitute them in an idealised form. The etchings are both minimal and matter of fact, consisting of the least amount of mark making required to produce the landscape form.

Stefanie Hofer’s aquatints of classical and modernist gardens take a highly idealised vision of nature and manipulate it further. For GiG she has made two new prints, based on found images of the “El Cabrío” gardens, part of the larger El Pedregal development in Mexico City by Luis Barragán. The gardens were designed according to modernist utopian principles, enclosed spaces where one can retire and enjoy nature. In Stefanie Hofer’s aquatints this harmony of the natural and the manmade becomes darker and foreboding, dismissive of utopian claims.

Rebecca Partridge has a longstanding interest in synaesthesia as a means of relating to the outside world without recourse to representation. Watercolour landscapes of trees painted at a specific time and location are to resonate with ceramic abstract sculpture, producing a constellation of different stimuli. The experience the work demands is no longer bound to representation, but allows for a zone of mimetic relationality, where mimesis becomes a form of collusion with nature.

Both Miriam Salamander and Stefanie Hofer are Munich-based. Rebecca Partridge is a UK artist, currently living and working in Berlin.

Magdalena Wisniowska 2017

Save the date! New show opening on the 10th of March!

inorglandscape

The growing impact of human expansion on fragile global ecosystems is a well-established if not universally acknowledged 21st century concern. The opposition is a familiar one: on the one side, man with his polluting industries, and on the other, nature, unspoilt and pure. However, as already Adorno pointed out, this antithesis of technique and nature is a crude one. Nature, which has not been pacified by human hand – alpine moraines or inorganic outer space – looks precisely like the polluted landscape of industrial debris that is so repulsive to us. Landscape is a construction, organised and codified.

Stefanie Hofer, Rebecca Partridge and Miriam Salamander are three artists, who work in the landscape tradition, accepting that since the early 19th century discussions of the picturesque, culture has provided models of how we view and present our surrounding environment. In their work, they try to make the constructed nature of landscape apparent to the viewer. Central to their practice is the use of traditional technique: ceramic, watercolour, etching and aquatint. At a time when human progress harms as much as it assists nature, their exhibition, “inorganic landscape,” recognises the power these techniques hold.

Magdalena Wisniowska 2017

 

Das zunehmende Einwirken der menschlichen Expansion auf die fragile globale Umwelt ist ein wohl etabliertes, wenn auch nicht allseits anerkanntes Problem des 21. Jahrhunderts. Die Gegenspieler sind uns vertraut: auf der einen Seite der Mensch und seine verschmutzende Industrie und auf der anderen Seite die unveränderte und reine Natur. Jedoch führt diese Antithese von Technik und Natur, worauf bereits Adorno hinwies, in die Irre. Die Natur, die nicht durch die menschliche Hand besänftigt wurde – alpine Moränen oder der anorganische Weltraum – gleicht der verschmutzen Landschaft industriellen Abfalls, die wir so verabscheuen. Landschaft ist ein Konstrukt, organisiert und kodifiziert.

Stefanie Hofer, Rebecca Partridge und Miriam Salamander sind drei Künstlerinnen, die sich mit Landschaft beschäftigen und anerkennen, dass uns die Kultur seit den Diskussionen über das Pittoreske im 19. Jahrhundert Modelle zur Verfügung gestellt hat, wie wir die uns umgebende Landschaft sehen und präsentieren. In ihren Arbeiten versuchen sie die konstruierte Natur der Landschaft für das Auge des Betrachters wahrnehmbar zu machen. Im Fokus ihrer Praxis stehen dabei traditionelle Techniken: Keramik, Aquarell, Radierung und Aquatinta. In einer Zeit, in der der menschliche Fortschritt die Natur gleichermaßen schädigt wie fördert, zeigt ‘inorganic landscape’, welche übermittelnde Kraft von diesen traditionellen Techniken ausgeht.

Translation by Nadja Gebhardt 2017