Flagpole magazine recently reviewed an exhibition I curated at the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art (ATHICA) called Emerges VIII, of which I said “Rather than relaying an ordinary story, their works often suggested something artificial—perhaps with a hint of a darker underbelly, or something so removed from reality as to be in a fantasy land—thus with the clear suggestion that it is only illusion and not real. Both qualities are mildly subversive, and highly entertaining.” As ATHICA’s eighth annual exhibition of work by emerging local artists, I approached the exhibition as a chance to introduce exciting new work by younger artists to the local community. My three key words were narrative, artifice, and the fantastical.
I loved having the chance to show photographer Winnie Gier‘s saturated, strange environs next to Saegan Moran‘s Vinyl Forest, both turning the natural into highly artificial states. Work by Jessica Machacek also deals with ideas of artificiality and nature–often in terms of consumerism, as one can see in the blinds displayed on the left in the image below.
Machacek’s scenic window dressing with a view to nowhere exploits the idea of the picture plane as window–something Michael Ross takes up in his large narrative oil painting representing an impossible scene of soldiers wrapped in a Christmas fantasy in the midst of a snowy landscape. Although historically based, elements of glowing tree and presents amidst the tundra seems unlikely; If this is a view, it is one onto a scene of magical realism.
Guns lean together on the right of the composition, abandoned, and recalling the functionless yet beautiful tools Cameron Lyden has hung from the wall to its right. His installation features carefully fashioned objects of brass and wood, resembling but not quite functioning as tools.
Finally, Ben Rouse presents a series of 10 black and white prints that range from the whimsical to the serious. Viewers are left to construct their own meaning from the mysterious symbology of eggs and contorted body postures.
Emerges VIII is on view at the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art in Athens, GA through August 23, 2015.