Monday, 21 July 2008

on landscape art

Reading the chapter 'Elements of a new landscape' in 'As Eve Said To The Serpent' by Rebecca Solnit:

'In making landscape art, contemporary artists recognize landscape not as scenery but as the spaces and systems we inhabit, a system our own lives depend upon. In other words, there was no need to return to a landscape that had never been far from anything but our thoughts: it was the thoughts that had to change. The landscape is now thought of as ubiquitous - as the environment, a landscape that includes the microcosmic as well as the macrocosmic, economies as well as ecologies, the cultural as an extension of the natural, our bodies as themselves natural systems that pattern our thoughts, and our thoughts as structured around metaphors drawn from nature.'


'When the natural world ceases to be perceived as the scenery out there and becomes the systems and substances all around, we've moved from a mechanical to an ecological worldview, one that is implicit in many installations dealing with substance. In concentrating on substance rather than form as the bearer of meaning, artists assert the decisive significance of substance rather than regarding it as a neutral matter that takes on meaning as it is given form. The very notion of giving meaning to something is premised on a cosmology in which things don't have it yet, in which form is to content as spirit to matter, man to women, God to nature. Substance suggests that meaning is inherent in the world rather than something that needs to be inscribed upon it, and it proposes meanings that can be read in the world itself - the world as language.'


'There are a number of parallel shifts, which together constitute a huge gesture that reverses modernism's gesture upward, out of Plato's cave - a retraction of that gesture of purity and transcendence against the body, the senses, the maternal, and against origins, mutability, ambiguity, a gesture of absolutes and universals. The countering gesture celebrates the sensory, the tangible, the feminine, the complex, the impure, the contextual, the local, the specific, the contingent, the fecund; it is mutable, shifting, ambiguous, immanent (generating what once would have been a contradiction: a spirituality that emphasizes the bodily, the mortal and the material).'

Solnit, R (2003) 'As Eve Said To The Serpent', University of Georgia Press

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