Landscape & Life: Suzy Poling and Paige Emery
Landscape & Life is a year-long exhibition series that coincides with the opening of Indexical's new brick-and-mortar venue located at the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, California. The series explores the work of artists who draw our attention to the imminence of life within the landscape, making visible and audible the presence of human and non-human vitality in what in art, geography and law has too often been represented as empty space. This first exhibition features work by Los Angeles-based artists Suzy Poling and Paige Emery.
Paige Emery: "Present Topography"
"The geontological division of Life and Nonlife is not merely a division but an opportunity for a set of further divisions as maneuver... Capitalism depends on creating by destroying and then erasing the connections between the material wastes it leaves behind and the glimmering oasis of privilege this waste affords. [Anti-colonial worlds need] a constant attentiveness to the adjustments and innovations necessary to keep human and nonhuman forms in a co-constituting relation was a creative core to the ancestral present." —Elizabeth Povinelli
There is an urgency in our time, to begin to reconstruct new narratives of connection to our acentered planet and our entangled present. Neither a nostalgic past of a pristine habitat that once was, nor a utopian, techno-fixed future of what could be, but instead, a present as continual processes of re-relating to landscape and nonhuman life. We must destabilize congealed perspectives which still normalize nature as something “out there”, or as a “sublime retreat”, so as to realize there is no “out there”. Wherever we are, we are affecting and being affected by the planetary, that which is both of us and beyond us, but is never reducible to one or the other. Present Topography explores how we might reorient within the present, while doing so in a state of attentive presence. Living in the age of an attention economy, where our presence is constantly capitalized on in a way which hinders our senses of receptivity, presence is of urgency to be able to deeply listen and respond to effects on our internal and external environment. Considering landscape not as something “out there”, but as something that can move and dance, at all times and places, within our inner experience, where new habits can assist us to resituate exteriority into our immediate, inner psyche. The installation exhibits painted ritual objects and sacred shapes entangled with landscapes that are never wholly contained by their physical locations, illustrating how preexisting knowledge can be deployed to re-enchant our relationship to the “nonliving” world within our daily practices. Ritual practice always involves a mutability which erodes bodily edges, extending the sensorium in a way which defies “geontopower”, the governance of existence through the imposition of divisions between life and nonlife, which lies at the heart of anthropocentric colonial ordering. Present Topography redeploys space and time as a suture of this rupture, grounded in enduring presence.
Suzy Poling: "Ecological Assimilation: Mud Figures"
Imagining an ancient or futuristic civilization living amidst mud formations and columns of calcium carbonate. A multimedia exploration of geological phenomenon, adaptation, biogenesis, environmental synthesis and parallels of the past and future. The process of regeneration and primal orientation through texture; body in the land and land in the body.
About Landscape & Life
Landscape & Life is a year-long exhibition series that coincides with the opening of Indexical's new brick-and-mortar venue located at the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, California. The series explores the work of artists who draw our attention to the imminence of life within the landscape, making visible and audible the presence of human and non-human vitality in what in art, geography and law has too often been represented as empty space.
Landscape & Life will feature three exhibitions over the course of its 2021-2022 season, including Los Angeles based multimedia artists Paige Emery and Suzy Poling (Oct-Nov 2021); Diné composer Raven Chacon (Jan-Feb 2022); and the Canadian sound artist Paul Walde (May-June 2022). Each of these artists is a well-known musician and performer, and will join Indexical’s season of live performances during their respective exhibitions.
Threaded throughout Landscape & Life is a series of speaking engagements by artists, scholars, and activists, whose work extends the exhibitions’ themes and ideas, engaging with current political and environmental concerns. Speakers will include radio artist Anna Friz, Louise Leong and Tim Young from Solitary Gardens, artist Aja Rose Bond, the Democratic Socialists of America Ecosocialist Working Group, photographer Karolina Karlic and her collaborators in Unseen California, scholar Adrian Drummund-Cole, and more to be announced.
Landscape & Life is curated by experimental musician Gabriel Saloman Mindel. In addition to being well known as a composer and one half of the seminal 2000’s noise group Yellow Swans, Mindel is a visual artist, writer and scholar who is currently pursuing a PhD in UC Santa Cruz’s History of Consciousness department. Much of his work focuses on the relationships between noise, protest, and power and he has long been interested in exploring how listening and making sound can change our relationships to people, places, and things.
“We all are familiar with images that emphasize the inherent beauty in landscapes, but we don’t always consider the relationship to land and to the life worlds within it that this approach to depicting landscape encourages,” says curator Mindel. “When we look at a landscape painting we place ourselves outside of it, distant from it, and it encourages us to think of land as a property that we can simply own, just like a painting. I’m interested in asking what other relationships to land and life are possible, and how art can guide us towards those relationships.”
Mindel says that listening to local Native American communities such as the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band has forced him to rethink these relationships, not only to the land where he lives but to the people whose lives depend on it. “Learning about the Amah Mutsun’s efforts to protect sacred places like Juristac has inspired me to work with my own communities to better understand our relationships to this place. I’m hopeful that these exhibitions can spark conversations about our collective relationships to the land around us, and to the people - and the non-humans - that live here with us.”
The first exhibition for Landscape & Life opens on Friday, October 1, 2021, and features mixed-media installations by Paige Emery and Suzy Poling. Both artists will show new work that explores the animistic qualities of land and life through an array of media: painting, video, sound, textile, wallpapers, photography and living sculptures. Emery and Poling will be returning at the conclusion of the show on Saturday, November 13, to perform and present on their work.