Unnatural Landscapes #1

June 19, 2010

So I’ve noticed in all the curatorial proposals I’ve been doing, three words keep popping up over and over again, even when I’m not dealing with photography: 1) nature/natural, 2) landscape, and 3) abstraction.   Any two of the three would be an interesting combination, but with all three together you have a real mix going on.  And my point of selfishness when people say “oh Nicholas Grider why do you curate shows” has always been that I can deal with ideas and concepts in my curatorial practice that I don’t/can’t/won’t deal with in my own work.

Except that’s completely false.  As the military landscapes down yonder show, I am a decent “landscape” photographer, and I actually make landscapes, and I make abstract work, and I make stuff that deals with the idea of the natural.  So scratch the “I need this alternate outlet because I wouldn’t work with these ideas otherwise” and instead, you get “I curate shows about these ideas because I’m obsessed with them and they are larger than my own work.”

Point in case I found some old (2008) work recently that tries to dovetail all three.  Some of those photos are below, and while I don’t think what’s below is the end stage of anything, they’re proof if nothing else that I have been trying to play these three ideas off of each other for a long time.  (I’ll post more work later.)  What you’re seeing is variations on photos of Valencia/Newhall taken from the relatively high vantage point of the parking lot next to the MFA photo studios at CalArts.  Again, more of an experiment than anything else but it’s interesting what cliches you get when you  mix the three in an offhand way–something to explore going forward.   (The bottom one is my favorite and I imagine it as a very large print– 48×60 or larger–so that phenomenologically you’re forced as a viewer to stand in the night sky.

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