Curated by Tatiana Mateus featuring artworks by Sofía Córdova and Dionne Lee
Lane Meyer Projects is pleased to present GREEN GRA$$, an exhibition curated by Tatiana Mateus featuring artworks by Sofía Córdova and Dionne Lee
October 11, 2019 - November 12, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday October 11, 6pm - ?
For Immediate Release:
Lane Meyer Projects is pleased to announce Green Grass, curated by Tatiana Mateus, featuring works by Dionne Lee and Sofía Córdova. The show features photographic images, collages, found objects, and video projections that unpack the double entendre of the title: the impact of capitalism on the natural environment. Progressing from Lee’s to Cordova’s works, the installation reframes biblical retellings of humankind’s birth, struggles and destruction in light of historical and contemporary events and their relationship to the climate crisis that threatens our existence.
Dionne Lee’s practice is grounded in a dialogue with current environmental and race issues through the use of found historical images. Her photographs are often sourced from nature magazines and books from the 1950s to the late 1970s—a time marked by the proliferation of idealized images of the natural world as well as heady explorations beyond our planet. Sofia Córdova’s work, on the other hand, uses a mixture of sci-fi and magical realism to imagine a dystopian future that comes as a result of our failure to address the current climate crisis under conditions of late capitalism.
The installation is announced by Cordova’s post-apocalyptic assemblage, ONE WINGED ANGEL, displayed in the outside vitrine, signaling the end of humankind. Inside the gallery, Lee’s TRESPASS IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WORD, an inkjet print, reminds us that we are all trespassers. The work can be understood to represent the original sin, wherein a hand tries to grab a piece of land resembling the moment Eve reaches out for the forbidden fruit.
The promised land is reimagined in Lee’s A TEST FOR 40 ACRES, a documentary photograph of an attempt (and its subsequent failure) to cover forty acres of land with an emergency blanket. The title is a direct reference to the 40 acres and a mule freed slaves were nominally granted during Reconstruction in effort to build their own economy and transition into freedom.
Just as Lee questions the history of land rights, two further works critique the politics of water. GULF, a photographic meditation on flooding, is a reference to the town of Princeville –one of the first established black communities in America, continuously inundated by water as a result of climate change. In this work, the artist questions who is protected in the face of natural disasters. Here we can make a parallel to Noah’s Ark in order to reflect on who is saved and who is sacrificed.
The inkjet print diptych, BREAKING THE FALL, shows a pair of nearly identical hands peeling back into linear descending forms an image of a waterfall. The work was inspired by the Dakota Act Pipeline (DAPL), a 1,172-mile-long underground oil pipeline that was projected to run from western North Dakota to southern Illinois. The pipeline was built in 2017 despite numerous protests amid concerns of water contamination. The title is a double reference to the impact on the environment that comes from satisfying our voracious desire for oil in the face of our ever-diminishing water supply.
The gridded stack of monitors marks our arrival in the present time and our introduction to the works of Sofia Córdova. THEY HELD DANCES ON THE GRAVES OF THOSE WHO DIED IN THE TERROR is a multi-channel video installation that reflects on the decline of the earth's flora and fauna. The audios rework Mariah Carey’s Fantasy and the Tom Tom Club’s Genius of Love songs with Spanish words describing a world where dances are held on concrete slabs under a dying sun and human survivors are in constant peril. The stacked monitors resemble our current Tower of Babel, where people fail to communicate, rendering them incapable of addressing issues of climate change. With this work Córdova projects our precarious and contingent connection to the natural world.
Imagining a future post-apocalyptic world where humans fail to find a solution to the climate crisis we are currently facing, Córdova researched resilience of plants following nuclear events in order to imagine a landscape which through genetic mutation has grown immune to human destruction. CHERRY TREE OBSERVATION FEE (HOLIDAY IN FUKUSHIMA) is inspired by Miharu Takizakura, a thousand-year-old cherry tree which has been a site of pilgrimage for hundreds of years. Surviving the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear spill nearby, the tree is relatively unaffected and is expected to thrive despite the presence of radiation. The work consists of three parts: a cut-out of the tree’s silhouette from afar; an 1836 waka poem about what priest and poet Suetaka Kamo felt in its presence; and a meteor supposedly found nearby and whose own identity is now blended with the remains of the tree. Moreover, the different representations of the tree make us wonder which version would be considered a relic in the event of its extinction: potentially charging an entry fee for visitation, like Fukushima’s cherry tree site started doing in 2010 - another way our capitalist system monetizes worship.
But the main dystopian version of our future has to do with the lack of water. The nearby video, SIN AGUA, and the sculpture, A REGION OF SINGULAR LONELINESS, were created by Córdova during her residency in Phoenix, Arizona. Following the development of Hurricane Maria in her native Puerto Rico from afar, the work is a rumination on the inevitability of an environmental apocalypse. By combining videos from her life in Phoenix, with footage of the hurricane and historical footage of Native Americans, Cordova leads us to reflect on the contrast between an indigenous, organic way of life and the wasteful use of natural resources brought on by progress and economic development.
The last work on the exhibition is Córdova’s UNTITLED (VASE) which ironically features dried flowers stuck into an industrial pipe. The work suggests a genetic mutation forming a new organism that combines organic and industrial forms. In its miming of a flower vase, it stands as a symbol of mourning for the life as we once knew it.
Some of the works in the exhibition question how we behave as owners of the land we inhabit, while others make us wonder how long the extraction mentality of capitalism can actually last before an irreversible decline of natural landscape and wildlife. Taken together, the works in Green Grass highlight the issues that arise when humanity sees itself as something separate from nature, trying to control and explore it in the pursuit of economic power and the accumulation of wealth. Overall, these works invite us to think about our relationship to the natural environment—how we consume it as free resources to be owned, gifted, sold, and exploited.
Dionne Lee (USA, b. New York, NY, 1988) received her BAFA in Fine Arts from Alfred University, Alfred, NY and her MFA from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA. Lee has held solo exhibitions at the Interface Gallery, Oakland, CA (2019); and LightSource, San Francisco, CA (2018). Her work has been exhibited at venues including Silver Eye, Pittsburgh, PA; CTRL+SHFT, Oakland, CA; LAND AND SEA, Oakland, CA; Embark Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Aggregate Space, Oakland, CA; Coulter Art Gallery, Palo Alto, CA; Mills College, Oakland, CA; California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA; NoPlace Gallery, Columbus, OH; Borderline Art Collective, San Francisco, CA; San Francisco Arts Commission Main Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Queens Museum, Queens, NY; DTA, New York, NY; Fused Space, San Francisco, CA; Debtfair (participating artist), a project of Occupy Museums, Whitney Biennial 2017, Whitney Museum, New York, NY; Root Division, San Francisco, CA; International Center of Photography, NY, NY. Lee was a 2019 SECA Award finalist. She currently lives and works in Oakland, CA.
Sofía Córdova (USA, b. Carolina, Puerto Rico, 1985) received her BFA from St. John’s University and the International Center of Photography and her MFA from California College of the Arts. Córdova has held solo exhibitions at Kate Werble Gallery, New York, NY (2018); ASU Art Museum Project Space, Tempe, AZ (2017); City Limits Gallery, Oakland, CA (2017); Pro Arts, Oakland, CA (2015); Royal Nonesuch Gallery, Oakland, CA (2014); and PlaySpace Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2011). Her work has been exhibited at venues including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; Mills College Museum of Art, Oakland, CA; the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA; Abrons Arts Center, New York, NY; MEWO Kunsthalle, Memmingen, Germany; San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA; Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA; The Luminary, St. Louis, MO; Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA; La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley, CA; SOMArts, San Francisco, CA; SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA; Sonoma Museum of Art, Sonoma, CA; and the International Center of Photography, New York, NY. Cordova was a 2019 SECA Award finalist. She currently lives and works in Oakland, CA.