Haines Gallery is pleased to present A Cure for Everything, a group exhibition bringing together works by nine artists working in photography, print, and video. Employing alternative or experimental techniques, each of the artists in the show push the boundaries and possibilities of how we picture the landscape.
The exhibition’s title is drawn from Isak Dinesen’s short story, The Deluge at Norderney, in which four strangers at a seaside resort trade tales as they seek refuge from rising floodwaters. As in Dineson’s writing, the works featured in A Cure for Everything picture the sea specifically, and nature generally, as place for healing and regeneration; a place for leisure and the implications of class access which follow; as destructive, regenerative, sublime, fragile, and ultimately essential.
A Cure for Everything includes new works by 2018 Guggenheim Fellows David Maisel (b. 1961, lives and works in San Francisco, CA) and Meghann Riepenhoff (b. 1979, lives and works in Bainbridge Island, WA and San Francisco, CA), who take differing approaches to examine the impact of human intervention on the environment. Aerial images from Maisel’s latest series, Desolation Desert, reveal how copper and lithium mining in Chile’s arid Atacama Desert have dramatically transformed the landscape. The environment is both subject and collaborator in Riepenhoff’s new camera-less cyanotypes, created when draped along the shore of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, which is experiencing record low water levels. Waves, wind, and sediment make physical inscriptions through direct contact with the photographic materials. With its high alkalinity and salt content, the Great Salt Lake leaves its particular trace as a crystalline, gold-speckled sheen on each image.
Photographs by Binh Danh (b. 1977, lives and works in San Jose, CA) and Linda Connor (b. 1944, lives and works in San Francisco, CA) consider the role that land and water play in our search for meaning, and our attempts to connect with heaven and earth. A new silver plate daguerreotype by Danh depicts Robert Smithson’s iconic salt-and-stone structure in the Great Salt Lake, which was submerged beneath water for nearly two decades after its creation. Spiral Jetty, Utah (#3), 2017, pays to homage to the timelessness of creativity, and one man’s search for permanence. Connor’s peripatetic practice takes her to sacred sites around the world, and her image of Tanah Lot at sunset demonstrates a longstanding interest in the relationship between systems of belief and the natural world. Off the coast of Bali, Indonesia, Tanah Lot is home to a Hindu temple and an important pilgrimage site.
A film about a group of musicians learning to sail by Swedish video artist Johanna Billing (b. 1973, lives and works in Stockholm), raises questions of who has access to resources. Shot in Edinburgh, Scotland and first screened at documenta 12, This is How we Walk on the Moon (2007) chronicles the journey of local musicians as they prepare for and embark on a sailing trip on the Firth of Forth. All of them are setting foot on a boat for the first time; despite Edinburgh’s proximity to the sea, much of its population remains disconnected to it, due to economics, class, and privilege. Billing’s poetic score accompanies these novice sailors as they set forth upon unfamiliar territory, as new to them as the surface of the moon.
Bay Area photographers John Chiara (b. 1971) and Chris McCaw (b. 1971) employ alternative techniques to photographing water, each work about the photographic process as much as it is about the landscape. Chiara’s Northern California seascapes are printed directly onto photographic paper in massive, self-constructed camera obscuras. Rippled, sun-lit water imparts a dream-like quality to each luminous work, while uneven hand-cut edges and subtle chemical streaking hint at the labor behind their making. The powerful lenses of McCaw’s handmade cameras act almost like magnifying glasses: over a prolonged exposure, the sun literally sears its path across the landscape pictured on light-sensitive paper. In the ambitious Sunburned GSP #944 (Pacific Ocean, sunset in 9 frames), 2016, the trajectory of the setting sun over the Pacific Ocean is captured across nine panels, its gradually-lightening reflection captured in the water below.
A Cure for Everything also includes Roy Lichtenstein’s Crying Girl lithograph, depicting saltwater tears through his iconic use of primary colors and Ben-Day dots, as well as a recent work by Kota Ezawa (b. 1969, lives and works in San Francisco, CA and Berlin, Germany). Flood (2011) appropriates a found image of houses in Georgia submerged by flooding in 2009, recreated in Ezawa’s trademark pop style. By reducing the image to its most essential, two-dimensional elements, Ezawa asks us to consider the validity of the photograph as mediator of historic events and personal experiences. How much can these images capture the true cost of flooding and natural disasters?