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Preview: Erika Blumenfeld in Carbon 13

27 Aug 2012

Erika Blumenfeld, Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), 2012, Digital pigment print, 40x60 inches, Edition of 3

Erika Blumenfeld, Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), 2012, Digital pigment print, 40x60 inches, Edition of 3

Getting excited about the opening of Carbon 13 this Friday. Installation is in full swing (thanks to master installers Sean Di Ianni and Justin Waugh), and artist Erika Blumenfeld just installed her contribution — paintings, sculptures and photographs related to the wildfires across the US southwest. Erika explains:

“In April of 2011, as the Rock House Fire raged through Marfa and across the beautiful landscape of far West Texas–devastating the region’s wildlife, ranches and livelihoods–I began to collect the charred debris of the trees, dirt, animal bones, and grasses that remained. I then photographed the result of what has clearly become a heightening of conditions for wildfires due to arridification from climate change. I documented four major fires across of the southwest in this way, gathering material from the Rock House Wildfire (Texas 2011), the Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), the Wallow Wildfire (Arizona 2011) and the recent Waldo Canyon Wildfire (Colorado 2012).

I ground the charred debris I collected into a fine pigment, which in some cases is iridescent with metalized carbon, and made a series of Wildfire Paintings, allowing the raw material to sit on the surface of a gilded-edged panel. For the sculptural component, I filled hand-hammered Tibetan song bowls with charred grasses, pinecones, wood and pineneedles and displayed them along burned volcanic rocks, animal bones and cacti. All of these materials are contraband, as the areas from which I gathered them were either private, state, or federal lands. At each location I went to gather debris, I was at some point evicted from the land, highlighting the interesting dichotomy between the varying human ideas of ‘land ownership.’ This work considers the sacredness of the natural landscape alongside our desire to own it, exploring the idea that land ownership has in one sense stolen the land from nature. In stealing it back, the piece intends to re-sacralize nature beyond our possession of it. In the photographic works, I documented the thick smoke of the active fires and the blackened landscape in the aftermath of the blaze.

The works are forensic evidence of the crime of climate change, eulogy to the wildfires, and homage to the nature they consumed. However, as carbon is both the building block of all life and is itself an artifact of light, these works also intend to look to the regeneration that is possible as we look for solutions for climate change.”

Join us on Friday for the Carbon 13 opening from 6 to 8 pm, followed by a community dinner at the Capri, where we’ll also show Koyaanisqatsi, the film by Godfrey Reggio, with music by Philip Glass. –NI