For months I’ve been increasingly preoccupied with the forthcoming exhibition Colliding Islands. All the little details: venue/context, freight, writing, finalising the catalogue, triple-checking details. My sleep was out of whack due to lingering grammatical questions: an overused comma in my predictably long sentences. The usual process that inevitably peaks and then wanes post-opening. Essentially, it’s a kind of landscape exhibition. Which is humorous to me, because if someone had told me that I’d be curating a ‘landscape’ exhibition 18-months ago, in my mind – I would have reached over and slapped them. But I think this coupled with a gradual consideration of the project has ultimately led to a richer interpretation/s.
The project has come about through a series of studio situations and visits, where there was a noticeable subsistence of landscapes, either overtly or more subtle ideas about landscape. Particularly, American artists opposed to occupation in Iraq and confounded by the enforced rules of political and military spaces in the US. Grappling with this identity conflict while traversing sedition and managing self-censorship. Landscapes imbued with politics. It’s a minefield.
From an outsider’s perspective, headlines regarding Iraq would be missing from US newspapers; instead there was a persistent radio advertisement to recruit for the CIA. What are our social responsibilities in this global context? As an Australian, how do we participate? How can we when we’re still reconciling inherited ideological differences here? Can Indigenous Camping lend it self to site-specific models? Is there a new kind of landscape genre – post-site-specificity or at least a revised way of considering the genre?
More broadly, the project acknowledges that the screen makes it possible to encounter other spaces and allows for a distorted picturesque. Namely, our experience and perspective of Los Angeles is fashion and fiction, populated by celebrities. Los Angeles, and its realities are questionable. We expect it to be a vacuous husk that can be endlessly overlaid with new fictions.
Rather than permanent migration post-WII or a nostalgic, bittersweet memory, the project is more concerned with being briefly and continuously displaced, both physically and psychologically, and in particular via digital communications. We’re bombarded and seduced, in a similar way to advertising, by different spaces. How do we reconcile these colliding spaces?
Perhaps it’s easy to think of landscape exhibitions as quaint, and not typically relevant to contemporary contexts. They’re often dragged out of storage and installed without re-defining their relevance to the contemporary moment. As individuals and islands we knock about and transfer (no man is an island). The responsibilities of global citizens demands that one can extend one’s self to act beyond the immediate situation. In effect, burst the bubble.