Grounds for Progress brings together works by Gemma Pardo in video, photographs by Aura Rosenberg, and paintings by Lisa Sanditz. The artists’ exploration of historiographical production and the sociological ramifications of globalization unite these works. For each artist depictions of landscape are the surface or ground on which is registered the irrationality, ambiguity, and contradictory aspects of the unfolding of history.
Lisa Sanditz’s large-scale brilliantly colored paintings from the series Special Economic Zone, portray her vision of nature-turned-factory: pearl harvesting fields she visited on a tour through single industry towns in China. These sites ironically repurposed old plastic soda bottles to aid in the production of luxury goods. Sanditz’s expressionistic depictions of these sites yield surfaces that are a clash of painterly styles, disparate qualities of pigment, brilliant colors and dark subject matter. The surfaces reveal a tension between figuration and abstraction, transparency and opacity, density and sparseness. These formal tensions reflect the contradictions of the nation at hand- the vastness of the Chinese landscape and claustrophobia of burgeoning micro-economies, or the dialogue between a historical communism and a new capitalist system. Sanditz’s paintings invite viewers to consider pearls not as discreet luxury items, but as the fulcrum between the concrete world of things and the more abstract world of global exchange and interlocking socio-economic systems.
Gemma Pardo’s video pieces reveal land and seascapes that transform through a process of almost imperceptible shifting. Imagery of pristine nature and waterside industry combine through cross-fade editing and superimposition in Congo 1880 andUntitled 1900. Both works picture factories as monoliths that are iconic of every mark human beings have made on the earth. Pardo’s use of ambiguously historical titles, as well as her transmogrification of site and nonlinear shifting of time, indicates her approach to site as a field of confluence between the forces of historical subjectivity. Her works suggest our current collective state of suspension in regard to our interactions with nature and industry- a state of not yet having found a way to move forward and being unable to redeem our past.
Aura Rosenberg’s photomontages from the series The Angel of History are digital composites of disparate images culled from the photographic mega-archive of visual culture. House of Bones juxtaposes the steel mound of wreckage that was the World Trade Center with a fragile dwelling constructed of mammoth bones by Prehistoric humans. The double entendre invites us to consider the logic of distinctions between monument and ruin, how we live and how we die, how we create and whom we destroy. Each of Rosenberg’s photomontages is constructed around an image of an angel- a reference to Walter Benjamin’s concept of the angel of history, who helplessly bears witness to history that is an ever-mounting pile of wreckage. Rosenberg’s scenes of destruction and anachronism confound the logic of historicization and invoke the possibility of redemption in the web of a history that is an ever-expanding constellation of fragments.
The images seen in these works make no attempt to unify, explain or digest the complicated subjects and ideas they explore. Rather, the pieces grapple with the contradictory propensities of cultures both, to destroy and create, historicize and forget, make coherent and admit irrationality. Grounds for Progress does not attempt to anthologize the overarching themes of historiography, globalization, or ecological devastation. The exhibition is an exploration of threads that connect the works of three artists who investigate these themes on similar grounds.
Gemma Pardo was born in Galicia, Spain, 1976. She lives and works in London, and recently obtained her MA of Fine Art from Byram Shaw School of Art at the University of the Arts, London.
2006-2007 MA Fine Art, Byam Shaw School of Art, University of the Arts, London
2002-2005 BA Fine Art, London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London
2007 New Contmeporaries, UK
2007 Video Cuts, CCA, Glasgow
2007 Member of Nosotras, a group of seven emerging international women artists based in London
Aura Rosenberg was born in New York City. She spent several years living in Berlin with her husband and daughter during the early 1990s. She lives and works in Manhattan. Her first solo show was in 1989 at White Columns, NY. Her most recent solo show was Kathe Kollowitzplatz Lightbox Project in Berlin in 2003. Recent group shows include Exquisite Corpse at Mitchell Algus Gallery in NY and Dark Places at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in Los Angeles, CA. Since 1995 she has been an undergraduate faculty member at the School of Visual Arts in NY and since 1996 she has taught at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.
Lisa Sanditz was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1973. She lives and works in Tivoli, New York. Her recent solo shows include, “Fly Over” at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, MO and “The New Frontier” at ACME in Los Angeles, CA. Recent group shows include “More is More: Maximalist Tendencies in Recent American Painting” at the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee, and “Americana” at Gallery Ocho in Santa Barbara, CA. Her major influences include but are not limited to: David Hockney (1960s), Kerry James Marshall, Yun Fei Ji, Ed Ruscha’s Parking Lots, Swimming Pools, and the Sunset Strip, malls, WalMart, Mark Bradford, Amy Sillman, Medieval maps, “Oracle Bones” by Peter Hessler, and “Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture” by Robert Venturi. She is currently spending a year in Rome, Italy.
2001 MFA Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
1995 BA Studio Art, Macalaster College, St. Paul, MN
1994 Studio Art Center International, Florence, Italy
Grounds for Progress was organized by Lauren J. Wolk as part of the requirements for the master of arts degree in curatorial studies.
CCS Bard student-curated exhibitions are made possible with support from the Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg Student Exhibition Fund, Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg, and the Patrons, Supporters, and Friends of the Center for Curatorial Studies. Special thanks to the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.