greenhouse, a zoo, a houseplant, a pet. Charming diversions, sure, but, if you
think about it, these are also potent symbols of man’s complex relationship
with nature. That disconnect is the subject of much of artist ’s
conceptual photography work. In her
latest exhibition, “Theatergarden
,” on view at Wilding Cran Gallery
Los Angeles, an alligator approaches what appears to be an ornate cupcake-like
carousel in a verdant park. The beast is out of scale, nearly as large as the
building, and it appears somehow less crisp—slightly out of focus even—as
though it’s part of a different world. Perhaps because it is.
These images, presented as
large-format photographic prints, are actually postcard-sized collages that
have been scanned and blown up. Alexander’s source material for the show
includes found postcards of architectural marvels, museums, palaces, and
manicured gardens: relics of the old world. She then populates these scenes
with animals pulled from a catalogue of German-made replicas. Elevated by scale
and setting, the animals take on the gravitas of a wealthy patron in a
portrait—like a lynx lounging in the Wallace Collection drawing room in London.
Along with these pastiches, Alexander has also created a series of drawings of
suburban Parisian pavilions built just before the 1789 revolution. These, too,
are surrounded by out-of-place animals, seemingly set free to reclaim the city.
The works in the
show deal with some of the same fundamental issues Alexander has addressed
throughout her career: the collision of culture and nature, and the ways in
which human beings disrupt the natural world in an effort to control it. Her
investigations into this subject include the fantastical collages seen here, a
series about man-made interior landscaping at malls, natural wonders seen in
reflection, and a black-and-white series of photographs of the Palm House in
Kew Gardens, England. Nature, one degree removed.