Curated by Todd von Ammon
PARADISE embodies the Anthropocene, the proposed geological epoch wherein human activity is the dominant influence over the climate and the natural environment.
Each artwork examines some aspect of how contemporary culture both influences and is influenced by the natural environment since the 1980s. This is a period of time, initiated by the Reagan and Thatcher administrations, when free market capitalism and the appetite for economic growth began to intensify across the developed world. The last 40 years has brought an incredible surge in tech innovation in conjunction with the serious acceleration of human-influenced climate change.
Contemporary art has benefited from technological innovation, allowing artists to not only widen the aperture of what can be considered art, but to also make novel objects—thanks to new media—without historic precedent. The Anthropocene era has provided culture with many new apparatuses with which to represent the natural world, and PARADISEprovides a few such examples.
The title of the show comes from Dante’s Paradiso, an early tale of space travel. The narrator ascends into the heavens, while maintaining focus on the “pale blue dot” of planet earth. A clearer perspective of humanity’s purpose is achieved simply by zooming out. This is similar to the contemporary environment’s fixation on photographs like “The Blue Marble” and “Earthrise” which played a key role in the burgeoning of the contemporary Green/Environmental movements: a reminder of the power of images to galvanize culture.