This group show at Efrain Lopez Gallery questions humanity’s relationship with our environment. Through the scientific lenses of anthropology and archaeology, these artists transform geographical content. Caroline Abbotts’ work captures fleeting moments like the light of the moon or the growth of a sapling. Her cement casting of a tree creates a long-lasting impression for future contemplation, yet it also acts as a placeholder for a tree that is no longer there. Similarly, in “Mountain’s Memory” Liz Ensz tackles Google’s use of nineteenth-century topographical maps in its satellite imagery, calling attention to the discrepancies between these current and outdated mapping systems that reveal man’s effect on the natural environment. Her layered, printed tarps act as a document of the gap between these two systems, and while looking at them one can’t help but wonder what anthropocene view Google’s imagery will produce once updated again.
Perhaps this looming, barren epoch is why documenting the present convergence of our natural and artificial surroundings has become so important. Liene Bosquê does just this with her “City Souvenirs” clay impressions, which act as archaeological artifacts. Within the folds of each clay imprint, one can find hints of contemporary plant life and human infrastructure. Some sources can be quickly identified, such as the shapes of local foliage, while others resist easy classification through their more abstract geometry. During her “Impressions Walks,” Bosquê invites members of the community to participate in the project, evoking an ethnographic process while deriving the meaning of these spaces from the participants.
Just as aspects of Bosquê’s “City Souvenirs” resist identification, so too do Kayla Anderson’s “Future Reliquaries.” These transparent and Day-Glo acrylic creations are simultaneously familiar yet foreign. Small traces of natural things encased within the confines of amorphous manmade material resist chronological placement. Through the predominant use of acrylic sheets and bright color, one can’t help but think these small meticulously crafted tributes to nature foretell humanities eventual intersection between scientific, spiritual and environmental veneration. (Laura Volkening)
Through February 7 at Efrain Lopez Gallery, 1620 West Chicago