Anthropocene Island: Colonization, Native Species and Invaders

Suzanne Anker: Vanitas (in a Petri dish), 2013-18.
Pigmented inkjet print on archival paper, 44 x 44 each.

Anthropocene Island: Colonization, Native Species and Invaders

Featuring works by: Suzanne Anker, Peggy Cyphers, Pam Longobardi, Sarah Olson, Christy Rupp, Kathleen Vance

Organized by Peggy Cyphers

Anthropocene Island: Colonization, Native Species and Invaders addresses the vast environmental and geopolitical forces re-ordering the world as we have known it. Through the traceable singularity that is plastic (the geologic place-marker of the Anthropocene) to native and ‘invasive’ species, the re-worlding of migratory creatures, including humans, are examined. As a universal material of contemporary global culture, plastic endures in the environment such that all plastic ever created still exists. The petrochemical industry that fuels the relentless production of plastics is the same modus operandi that is also causing desperate attempts to extract the last drops of oil from the planet, which in turn is cooking up the enormous climatic changes we experience across the globe. Climate change is pushing all creatures – human, plant, animal and mineral – into new geolocations. The artists of “Anthropocene Island: Colonization, Native Species and Invaders” examine these interconnected linkages through sculpture, drawing, photography, video and installation.

Suzanne Anker (NY) creates miniature worlds within Petri dishes that pile natural and human-made materials into plush ‘landscapes’ photographed aerially and further translated via machinetechnology into 3d modeled artificial terrains, capturing and reinterpreting the color density of the photograph into stratigraphic reliefs of tiny proportions. Anker is a pioneer in Bio Art, currently researching the way that nature is being altered in the 21st century through her practice and collaborative facility, the SVA Bio Art Laboratory.

Peggy Cyphers (NY) “Heirs to the Sea,” are paintings that explore evolution, consciousness and the sea. Lexicons of painted characters operate as forces in oceanic dramas. Referential and continuously evolving, the brush marks and bioluminescent hues explore an abstract language of painted and printed imagery inspired by wildlife and the sea, relying on a combination of gesture and layering, texture and patterned forms. Using the UV rays of the sun, paint, sand and silkscreen, the pictures create an aquatic labyrinth of the human mind. The works are fossils of time, appropriating and reinventing images directly from automatic writing, nature, cultural history and etchings by early naturalists. The textural qualities of paint and sand embed gesture as a fossil of a geological trace, speaking about the infinite languages of the natural environment.

Pam Longobardi (GA) Through her collaborative platform Drifters Project, and an evolving team travel the world ocean, creating actions on site with local citizens to generate sculptures, photographs and installations of displacement. By disrupting the plastic flow, Drifters examines new realities as aquatic invasive marine species, and now human migrants, relocate on all manner of floating plastic. Recent collaborations include citizens and refugees of Lesvos through flag-like portable monuments that travel and generate income flow for social enterprises on-island.

Sarah Olson’s (NY) Earthtime series charts the earth through the last 500 million years, comparing the tectonic shift of the continents from the Paleozoic Era to the present and into the future. Looping the earth’s past into the earth’s future shows how rising sea levels will reshape continents in a fraction of the time it took plate tectonics to craft them into their current state. This series juxtaposes the slow evolution of land and sea over millions of years to the critically predicted fast moving changing shorelines that will have potentially catastrophic implications.

Christy Rupp (NY) builds skeletal creatures from the backbone plastic of the consumer age, credit cards. A long-time activist and artist recording the demise of habitat, Rupp draws the full circle around human extraction and consumption. Rupp states: “Ecosystem collapse and financial crises are both subject to interpretation, as accounting is more of an art than a science. But unlike the financial system, habitat is not made by humans, and it’s impossible to accurately manipulate with numbers and percentages. ( Although we try ). It’s much easier to destroy species than restore them.”

Kathleen Vance (NY) packs miniature, composed landscapes complete with running rivers into vintage valises and steamer trunks. These “Traveling Landscapes”reference the bucolic landscapes of Romanticism, and are constructed with a fusion of natural and artificial materials. The artist incorporates man-made and organic elements to reconnect and mend the urban disassociation with the natural environment. These self-contained universe ‘to go.’ are a mediated stand in for a true experience of nature. As environmental art, Vance’s works frame current complexities surrounding the containment of natural water flows, water rights and future water wars in a seemingly benign and magical artifice.

Anthropocene Island: Colonization, Native Species and Invaders

Pratt Institute:
DeKalb Gallery
331 DeKalb Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

September 16-27, 2019
Garden Reception: September 19th 5-8PM