Stayin' Alive

November 9, 2020 - March 25, 2021

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Press Release

Stayin' Alive

November 9, 2020 – March 25, 2021

 

Adál, Laura Aguilar, Greta Alfaro, Allora & Calzadilla, Lucas Arruda, Firelei Báez, Alberto Baraya, Alicia Barney, Albert Berg, Alberto Borea, David Brooks, Feliciano Centurión, Marcos Chaves, Carl Cheng, Minerva Cuevas, Donna Conlon, Donna Conlon & Jonathan Harker, Agnes Denes, Juan Downey, The Harrisons, Susan Hiller, Alexander von Humboldt, Gyula Kosice, Gordon Matta-Clark, Daniel Medina, Ana Mendieta, Sandra Monterroso, William Pope.L, Alejandro Puente, Eduardo Sarabia, Melanie Smith, Clarissa Tossin, Nicolás García Uriburu, Adrián Villar Rojas, Anicka Yi, Ícaro Zorbar

ANOTHER SPACE is pleased to present Stayin’ Alive, an exhibition about survival and resistance. Borrowing its title from the Bee Gees’ disco hit, Stayin’ Alive explores artists' responses in anticipating or coping with social and environmental crises. The exhibition surveys how international artists from various generations, from the early 19th century to the present, have shaped the public’s perception of the environment.

 

Modeled after Wunderkammers, the early European curiosity cabinets of the so-called Age of Discovery, the introductory gallery showcases a variety of objects including a selection of pre-Hispanic artifacts, as well as drawings and maps of early investigations of the Americas by the notable Prussian explorer, Alexander von Humboldt. These are juxtaposed with a group of works by living artists. Based on his own expeditions into the Amazon, David Brooks’ multi-folio atlas charts the enormous biodiversity of the region while pointing out the inherent dangers and consequences of previous European explorations of the continent. Similarly, Firelei Báez uses a 17th Century navigation chart of the Caribbean as backdrop to challenge hegemonic European narratives and the legacy of colonialism, and Sandra Monterroso’s fiber works bring the practices and struggles of her Mayan ancestors to the forefront. Conceived as the opening to the exhibition, this section aims to reconsider Humboldt’s contributions as marking the birth of a new era of environmental science and preservation while taking into account the colonial ideology that introduced a course of exploitation of the continent’s natural resources.

 

Works by Juan Downey, such as Life Cycle: Soil + Water = Flowers + Bees= Honey (1971), and Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fresh Air Cart (1972), reexamine New York’s urban setting as a utopian, sometimes dystopian, landscape.  In turn, Agnes Denes and The Harrisons underscore the symbiosis between metropolis and nature in their iconic land art proposals. Using the language of land art, Nicolás García Uriburu raises awareness of water pollution in his iconic East River Coloration (1970) by tinting the New York’s East River with fluorescent green dye. His actions are echoed in Pope.L’s caustic display of bottled polluted water from Flint, Michigan. Minerva Cuevas’ tar dipped seascapes, Clarissa Tossin’s weavings made from recycled Amazon.com boxes, and Donna Conlon’s playful video with trash, denote the consequences of years of reckless disregard towards the environment. Similarly, David Brooks brings a sense of urgency to the extinction of species with a sculpture of a false killer whale, making reference to the mammal’s mass beaching from 2017.

 

Emphasizing the interdependency of science and nature, Televisor Hidraulisado (1956), Gyula Kosice’s futuristic work, reflects on the human condition and its relation to space as part of the artist’s utopian vision for a Hyrdrospatial City. Allora & Calzadilla’s immersive video The Great Silence exposes the complicit role of science. Combining imagery from the largest radio telescope and a script written by science fiction author, Ted Chiang, the artists consider mankind’s quest to contact life on distant galaxies while being paradoxically indifferent to communications from other forms of near-extinct life on earth. This sense of scientific inconsistencies also reverberates in the work of Anicka Yi who deploys bio-chemical materials and experimental collaborations to question humanity’s relationship to nature and technology.

 

By contrast, Berg’s landscape of the Andes de Quindio, present-day Central Andes on the Colombian border, depicts a multiplicity of ecosystems, from xerophyte vegetation to snow areas, passing through cloud forests and pre-mountainous regions with a lush diversity of flora and fauna. Bringing together painting, photography, video and performance, the exhibition reassesses the tradition of landscape as a genre of interest to a growing number of artists as an effective eco-activist tool. From Minerva Cuevas’ tar-dipped seascapes, Agnes Denes’ defiant action to plant a wheat field in lower Manhattan, the Harrison’s utopian garden, to Alicia Barney’s core sampling of Colombian garbage dumps, the show presents landscape as a valuable means of addressing mankind’s footprint on the planet and to imagine alternative futures.

 

As the world witnesses the effects of misguided policies imposed by those who insist on denying the science of climate change (and science in general), Stayin’ Alive underscores the role artists can play in warning the public of the rapid, often irreversible ecological transformations taking place. Channeling these artists' optimism and defiant resilience, Stayin' Alive reevaluates mankind’s relationship with the environment to rebuild a sustainable future. 

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