Imaginary Monuments at Ortega y Gasset projects, Brooklyn 2015

Ortega y Gasset Projects Presents Imaginary Monuments

Curated by Fritz Horstman
April 25–May24, 2015
The Old American Can Factory, 363Third Avenue, Ground Floor,Brooklyn,NY

Imaginary Monuments, an Ortega y Gasset Projects exhibition curated by Fritz Horstman, brings together artists who in a variety of ways create paintings, sculptures, and photographs that monumentalize a possible or desired – though absent or disappearing – object or idea.  This urge to create imaginary monuments, or document real ones, seems to stem in part from the artists’ recognition and celebration of the precariousness of contemporary culture and current historicizing trends.  There is a theme of slowing things down, of cementing a fleeting moment – an urge to resist the ever speeding now.   Because we are venturing into the imaginations of these artists, into less-than-real or no-longer-real spaces, the work often contains fragments of narratives, and often tends towards the mysterious.  Imaginary Monuments includes work by Aimée BurgMark DixonThale Fastvold, and Emily Hass.

Fritz Horstman about Fastvold’s work:

Thale Fastvold’s GREEN—A New Human Being consists of a planting pot filled with dirt and a meteorite, with spelt or nasturtium growing from the soil. The plants are drawing nutrition from the soil, and also possibly from the meteorites. Photographs and certificates of authenticity are provided, giving us a few certainties, but it is the uncertainty that makes this work interesting.

Are we to believe that the plant is part alien? Is some alien life infusing the plant? Knowing the meteorite is there in the soil, but out of sight, our imaginations are engaged. The plants then give shape to the possibilities. Fastvold has other agenda beyond this imagining. These edible plants are to remind us that the
only place in the universe that can support human life is Earth, and that should we want to survive as a species, we need to take care of it.

Fastvold’s photographs from her series Genius Loci borrow from the aesthetics and traditions of ghost photography. In early photography, all photographs were considered to be true representations of reality. Odd lighting effects or inconsistencies in the photographic negative were sometimes thought to be ghosts.

Genius Loci translates from Latin as “spirit of the place.” All cultures have certain places that are considered to contain spirits. Often times these places are the sites of monuments. In her photographs taken in Greece and Norway Fastvold has captured mysterious spirit-like forms.

The artist is unforthcoming about what exactly is happening in the photo- graphs, which are digital prints. Something has happened either in the photographed space or on the camera’s sensor to produce the misty form. She assures us that there has been no post-production. Given the title, we are to understand that she has captured an image of a “spirit of the place.”

The photographs are monuments to that spirit, be it a trick of light or smudge on the sensor. Or they are monuments to the people who can believe that the spirit is there, even if the photograph is fudged.


You can read the full Essay on the show hereImaginary Monuments Essay final

Here is a review of the show on Critical Eyes

And more about the show on Temporary Art Review


From Todd Keyser’s review on Critical Eyes:

“With so much focus on Contemporary art these days it is often overlooked that work that is Contemporary has still been concerned with Modern Art since the 1960s. Take for example the work of Richard Serra or Gerhard Richter, which is still ongoing. In the 1960s and the 70s no one would have predicted an interest in the Modernist project would have lasted as long as it did beyond the critical skepticism of Postmodernity. Richter’s work during the 60s and the 70s certainly appeared to be more postmodern, but now over the span of 60 plus years, his works seems much more optimistically Modern. The work in Imaginary Monuments clusters itself to the same riverbed of art making in which these two artists established their projects. The process of making art is one in which I believe smaller gains are made in terms of aesthetic novelty, stopping along the way and admiring these artists timely contributions is the timely action to take.

The photographs by Thale Fastvold and paintings by Mark Dixon carry the earlier legacies of Pastoral and pictorial imagery of Modern Art in their respective contributions. What’s interesting about pairing Fastvold and Dixon is that the mediums, photography and painting, endlessly reference the other. Since the post-war years, the slippage between these two mediums- particularly with the dawning of the digital image- has become ubiquitous. The specificity of their point of origin becomes detached. Fastvold’s black and white photographs of parks in Greece and Norway feature strange wisps of foggy smoke and take on another quality altogether when read in the light of the coding that shifts between photography and painting. If Fastvold’s photographs are read in the context of painting, the subject matter of the ghostly floating mist can be interpreted as a cancelation: an abstract figure which interrupts Fastvold’s lush tonal pastoral landscapes. They also read in the context of photography; they are just unintentional photographic anomalies. The works in the exhibition have a double reading. Mark Dixon’s paintings of solitary monuments clearly reference the reproducibility of photography. The paintings reference the qualities of photography in their blurring of the paint mark that unifies the totality of Dixon’s paintings. Thus, Dixon’s and Fastvold’s contributions play an endless ping pong match of formal, contextual, and historical concerns off of each others work.”


Canson generously sponsored Thale Fastvold for this exhibition, the photographs are all printed on Canson paper.


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