I grew up with the feeling that our cities would evolve toward some kind of extreme state; utopian commune, technological wonder, total apocalypse etc. I think I absorbed these notions from our culture. But I’ve come to believe that the current nature of the city is likely its default state. Its apex more mundane than I (or anyone) had imagined: comfortable with its dysfunction, cozy in its chaos.
Conversations regarding the eventual state of the city feel irrelevant, as the future seems folded into the past; self-driving cars amble along streets originally paved for horses, Pokemon are projected onto 19th century brownstones, and 3-D programs dutifully render simulations of rusted cans. The city is a churning mess of ancient/current/future. Grand hopes now seem naive and it’s really a bummer.
Yet the city is still an ecosystem fueled by enormous forces. Although its trajectory may be circular it still gives birth to cultures that thrive along the periphery. And the feeling that the future is indefinitely delayed makes it possible for artists to gaze into the present with an unflinching eye and a twisted sense of glee at the unfathomable strangeness of it all.
In our paradigm the city is rarely an overt subject but rather the de facto setting for art’s production and reception – where the city’s emergent forces manifest. This show will feature artists whose work reflect urban life from our current position. It’s a sketch of the city – incomplete, oblique and at times pessimistic, but evidence of life flourishing within the persistent clutter.
Body by Body
B. Thom Stevenson
Sound Corridor by Nelson Harmon