With a continued emphasis on the tense relationship between man and nature, Jason Middlebrook’s new work finds inspiration in recent historical events and current news. While the title of the exhibition suggests an inflexible understanding of “truth,” the tone of the show acknowledges a shift in understanding and an increased awareness of such sobering topics as war, waste and natural disaster.
Middlebrook draws from the rich and endless supply of media imagery. Specifically, The New York Times provides his works on paper with images from front-page stories such as Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq, the tsunami in Indonesia and the crisis in the Middle East. This is a world in which man is disoriented and surrounded by the disarray of disastrous circumstances. In keeping with his continued interest in the environment, landfills play a primary role, exposing nature as overgrown and out of control. Weeds are the opportunists, exerting a regenerative power where the landscape has been scarred. The site of a bomb explosion or a natural calamity becomes a place where humans flock to witness the destruction and to engage with the debris that bears memory or serves as evidence of lives lost. From these horrific scenes the media spectacle is born.
For his sculptures, Middlebrook visits local dumps to find source material amidst the refuse that not only reveals a previous purpose and functionality, but also reflects on man’s relentless consumerism. Employing the ancient decorative art of mosaic, he uses the “double direct” technique – covering objects first with a fiberglass shell before applying a layer of glass tile and grout. In decorating debris, Middlebrook collapses function, context and memory, imbuing discarded objects with new meaning, new form and a newfound strength to withstand the effects of time.