Artist-Biologist Brandon Ballengée Examines Animal Extinction and Calls for Change
Ronald Feldman Fine Arts's booth at The Armory Show 2015 will feature a selection of Ballenge’s works, all two-dimensional works on paper that draw attention to shifts in various species.
As is the case with RIP Rabb’s Fringe-Limbed Treefrog: After J. Alison and B. Wilson (2008), an academic article is juxtaposed against photographs of the described species, posing an interesting interplay between text and image. The subject is a new species of frog found in Cocle, Panama, and four images of different animals appear, each cut sharply from their environments, leaving silhouettes behind. The curvature of each frog’s foot webbing and the angles of each tadpole’s sides excised from the bottom right of the page seem especially significant as visual elements. There is a pronounced tension between positive and negative fragments of space in this work that relates directly to the presence and absence of the species and the destruction of their environments.
In a work named with a similar mournful tone, RIP Hazel's Treefrog and Adler's Mottled Treefrog: After David M. Dennis (1970), Ballenge presents an illustration of five frogs. This time, instead of homing in on each individual organism from the work, he leaves three frogs untouched. This may have been as much an aesthetic decision as a political one: to show the extent to which this particular species of frogs has been disturbed by ecological upheavals.
As Balleng so eloquently explains, his work “re-examine[s] the context of the art object from a static form (implying rationality and control) into a more organic structure reflecting the inherent chaos found within evolutionary processes, biological systems and nature herself.” As a visual artist, biologist, and environmental activist, this assessment perfectly encapsulates what his transdisciplinary work intends to provoke.
Visit Ronald Feldman Fine Arts at The Armory Show 2015, Booth S44, New York, Mar. 5–8.