Category Archives: People

Christopher Michlig and John Zerzan – Kiosk Kiosk Kiosk

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Part of Portland2014, Christopher Michlig’s outdoor sculpture has landed akilter in Disject’a courtyard. The wood sculpture, painted black, is incised with text – excerpts from John Zerzan’s anarchic, antitechnological musings. Zerzan makes for gloomy reading and the sculpture itself is also quite stark. The Kiosks – there are three in Portland for the biennial – are described as “catalysts for possibility” and Zerzan’s accompanying pamphlet closes: “Look up from your screens. The only adventure is resistance.” I couldn’t agree more, although part of me longs for art that is more visually compelling, although then, I suppose, such art could become simply another mesmerizing screen. This seems purer and more contrarian.

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Traer Scott – Moose

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Traer Scott, Moose (2011) Ultrachrome print

Last time I wrote about the dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), those amazing and immersive scenes that are also fascinating examples of installation art. Perhaps as interesting as what’s behind the glass is what happens in front of the glass, as visitors, young and old, look in, sometimes scarcely breaking stride. Traer Scott’s photo series, Natural History, taken at the AMNH in 2008, captures these two layers. In Moose the face of a girl and boy appear to float on the body of the moose. There’s a witty reversal as the humans look ghostly and furtive and the wild animals look solid and in sharp focus. Nature and culture might be separate layers, but they’re always intertwined. Scott’s photos, by showing the human spectators, remind us that whenever we look at or represent nature we change it or perhaps simply become part of the representation

Laura Ross-Paul – Red Boot

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Laura Ross-Paul , Red Boot, 2013
Oil, watercolor, wax on Hulle paper on board
On view at Froelick Gallery, February 4 – March 15, 2014

It’s a cliché that things look different at night, but one that is certainly at play in this painting. Laura Ross-Paul’s lovely Red Boot shows a woman at night sitting on a bench. She seems inwardly focused, intent only on her phone and its powers to transport and inform. Around the sitting woman is a beautiful urban nocturne. Night has made this city scene softer, more mysterious, and somehow more natural, but the woman seems not to notice. This painting is part of Urban Forest, Ross-Paul’s exhibit at Froelick Gallery. The proximity of natural beauty and our ability to overlook it is a recurring theme here. Even if some of the characters within Ross-Paul’s paintings are absorbed by their digital devices her work certainly pays careful attention to urban nature in all its strange beauty. (Up next will be a tree portrait from this same exhibit).

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