Lombard Freid Projects is pleased to present From the Bellona Museum of Natural History, Jacob Feige’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. A new series of paintings, drawings and sound-sculptures continues Feige’s study of the American landscape, going beyond his fundamental fascination with land that has been abstracted through human development. The specific geographical depictions that inspire Feige’s geometric interruptions of thought, movement and light are brought to a new place within the artist’s creativity where time and space have lost continuity.
Feige cites two central sources for inspiration; the 1974 best seller Dhalgren by science fiction author Samuel Delany and the iconic murals by paleontological reconstruction artist Charles R. Knight, the painter that shaped the way prehistoric life is represented today. From the Bellona Museum of Natural History is a series of works taken from the fictional city of Bellona, the post apocalyptic American city that Dhalgren is set in. Feige created the series through his speculations on the prehistory of Bellona, a nearly abandoned city and site of aimless exploration, violence and supernatural occurrences. The results are simultaneously scientific and fictional, encouraging the viewer to consider a forgotten history of a time that never really was.
Feige combines the information of Bellona provided in Delany’s writing with history of the Americas to create work that he imagines would be found in the Bellona Museum of Natural History. Preparations for this exhibition took Feige from the Ocala National Forest in Florida, to the Colorado Rockies and the Patagonia Mountain range in Chile, among other locations. The landscapes and histories of both North and South America are folded together as strange inversions of one another, producing uncanny imagery of unknown histories. Time is also broken down within the works as Feige allows animals from different epochs to interact on the same plane. In Dire Wolf Rift the North American Dire wolf, a South American Manned wolf and an American Alsatian dog, bred to look like the now extinct Dire wolf, all walk together. This painting directly echoes a restoration in which Knight characterized the same Dire wolf in the early 20th century.
Installed to mimic the education wing of a now forgotten museum; old oak frames, cloth wall coverings and photo-copied flyers all sit together, collecting dust and giving little information away. References to the hunt for meat suggest that these prehistoric humans are to be looked at as the original consumers, but the didactic printouts interspersed throughout the installation shed little factual light, generating further uncertainty instead. Sound sculptures project pseudo-scientific narratives and the imagined calls of extinct animals with ambient music playing through reel-to-reel audio tracks. This archaic presentation lends itself to the already unexplained disposition generated by the paintings.
This general ambiguity of aestheticized science is Feige’s focus in his study of Bellona. He utilizes the uncertainty of science and the tangibility of art to make the viewer question this manufactured reality, all the while withholding a clear answer. American author William Gibson famously referred to Dhalgren as a “riddle that was never meant to be solved” and it is in this way that Feige most clearly embodies the history of the city of Bellona with the tradition of art.
There will be a special musical performance by Feige’s collaborator Keith Freund the night of the opening reception. Freund is a member the two-person band Trouble Books, and sometimes collaborator of Mark McGuire of Emeralds. Feige’s work will also be on view in The Death of Affect at Art Blog Art Blog, 508 West 26th St, from October 14-October 26. Other recent exhibitions include The Ultimate Painting, Movement, Worcester, UK; In Between, Chambers Fine Art, Beijing, China
A limited edition 12” LP of the audio by Jacob Feige and Keith Freund will be available for sale. This project was supported in part by the Rhode Island School of Design PTFA Technical Development Fund.