Noriko Furunishi’s landscapes present the world in a fragile balance between the tranquility of an inchoate primordial state and the tumult of glacial, seismic and diluvial transformation. Upon closer inspection, the pictures reveal themselves to be fragmented images woven together, flipped horizontally and vertically, their perspectives destabilized, their horizons eradicated. Viewing these pictures is a theatrical experience, dreamlike and hallucinogenic, but their hi-tech creation is also a reminder of the ecological manipulation, toxic effluents and natural disasters of our modern age.
Swedish artist Ann Böttcher’s delicate drawings of weeping spruce trees refer to the German warrior Hermann’s defeat of three Roman legions at the battle of Teutoburger Forest in 9 A.D., in which the conifers themselves were employed in the belligerent tactics. The battle is described by Tacitus in his work Germania. Later the Nazis came to see Germania as the birth certificate of the German race. Before becoming Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering was Reichsminister of Forestry and no previous regime had been so bent on preserving forests as this one.
At various times the US military has utilized vast areas of land to simulate the conditions and landscapes of other countries. Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, the Marine’s “virtual Iraq and Afghanistan”, spread across hundreds of miles of California desert, has been the subject of An-My Lê’s black-and-white photographs entitled “29 Palms”. Outside of the dichotomy of the staged versus documentary in contemporary photography, Lê’s rendering of simulated desert battlefields bear the weight of both tactical scrutiny and a provocative disjunction. Far from the CNN news-feed, she has confronted the individuals and surfaces that constitute the face of our military culture.
Lisa Ross records the inscription of culture, power and devotion onto the Taklamakan desert landscape of former East Turkestan (officially the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) in western China. During her quest for the sacred shrines and burial sites of the Muslim Uyghurs, she documented the checker-like patterns stitched into the endless stretch of dunes by the Chinese Authorities in their attempts to control the landscape and to more thoroughly incorporate the Uyghurs and this remote region of Central Asia into the rest of China.
Russian emigrée Anna Shteynshleyger’s photographs of the Kolyma region of Siberia, are not records of the locations of past crimes. Though her camera is pointing in the direction of historical sites of unremembered trauma, they do not reckon with the past and refuse any urge to heal through reliving previous horrors. They sidestep the inevitable failure of the photograph to stand for historical events, but let us see what a Siberian exile might have noticed in a moment of relief, through the slats of a cattle car, or beyond the wires of the Gulag.
On Wednesday, June 28th at 7pm there will be a presentation and conversation between Lisa Ross and Rushangul Rozi, architect and scholar of vernacular Uyghur architecture, currently visiting scholar at Indiana University.