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All that useless Beauty


All that useless Beauty
Curated by Thomas Keogh and Richard Turner Walker

10 July 8 August 2004

Artists: Mark Glassner, Mike Marshall, Mireyo Maso, Hans Op De Beek, Richard Turner Walker.
Catalogue essays: Charles Bainbridge, Dan Fox, Thomas Keogh, Gustavo Marrone, Amy Plant.

This exhibition brings together 5 video works by 5 European artists. Through these works the artists examine our relationship with ‘pure’ nature in the contemporary, largely urban environment. The images portrayed are practically devoid of human presence, but all reflect a space (managed woodland, zoo, park, landscaped paths) created as a recreational backdrop to an equally compromised human drama.

Our relationship with nature is as mediated by our projected dreams and hopes as it is by the carefully laid paving distancing us from the vagaries of terrain. It is both embraced and distanced by us as we render it safe for consumption. The beauty contained in nature conforms to our criteria of efficacy and pleasure, but only as we have tamed, culled, fenced off and framed it as surrogate emotional experience. It seems to contain the elusive qualities that we yearn to possess within ourselves, however it remains serene, indifferent, autonomous and powerful.

These artists’ works acknowledge this conflict, but somehow all have found common ground with nature’s desire to resist the easy cliché. In each piece we get a sense of mutual, respectful cohabitation or at least a lively dialogue between cultural gaze and nature’s reality. Each piece manages to create a new space free of presumptive description and emotional blackmail. We are presented with a thoughtful consideration of the compromises suffered on both sides in the creation of new ‘neutered nature’ environments and the desire to still see and experience Beauty. Thomas Keogh

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