PHOTO STORY: E.TAY Gallery is currently showing Land After Time, a group show featuring Stephen Eakin, Sarah Mullin, and Esther Ruiz, curated by Christina Papanicolaou and Kelly Worman. Somewhere between the familiar and the imaginary, there is a space where the objects in Land After Time exist. Inspired by a seemingly deserted Earth-like planet’s distant and unknown place in time, the exhibition reflects the artifacts, memories and relics that have been left behind. Glimpses of civilization fossilized in both organic and inorganic materials tell stories of a world’s past. Glowing light, elemental structures, and quiet landscapes suggest an extinct culture’s advanced, nearly utopian lifestyle with both utilitarian and aesthetic ideals. Land After Time asks, what could the remains of a forgotten era – and the promising spark of a new age – tell us about the future?
Stephen Eakin’s work explores the sentimentality we feel for certain objects and how the context for that meaning comes to exist. He uses personal narratives, traditions and experiences to consider our intimate attachment to such things while considering the politics of historical significance. Eakin investigates how much (or how little) context is needed to convey meaning and how we come to define something as important. His latest work embeds personally significant found objects in rubber – a kind of contemporary amber – fossilizing them for the viewer to consider as artifact and artwork folded together. The accessibility of the object’s meaning is always in question, confused and compounded by the container. His referencing of American Shaker furniture design taps into an eccentric society’s desire to create objects capable of being imbued with spirituality through their crafting.
Sarah Mullin’s ethereal paintings present layers of abstracted space and gesture referencing the landscape and its earthly ecosystem. They reflect the joy or heightened awareness one experiences through pure observation, the way a baby or a physicist observes phenomena without naming. Abstracting from memory or imagination stimulates the consciousness differently than when working from life. As a result, each of her gestures is more of an impulse response rather than one she is fully responsible for. A warm palette and playful layers of texture combined with these raw and immediate responses channel an honest reflection of optimism and faith in the daunting complexity of a planetary environment.
Inspired by space operas, pop culture, geometry and the setting sun, Esther Ruiz creates objects that operate simultaneously as miniature landscapes from a distant future and actual sized sculptures informed by a relative of Minimalism. She tops cast cement columns with Plexiglas triangles, neon arches and fractured geodes in a way that leaves viewers thinking of (among other things) Dan Flavin, Pink Floyd and the stark beauty of the desert. Her most recent work ignites sleek, white structures with neon in a way that calls to mind archaic machinery that has been abandoned by its creator. But as sparse and concise as her work is, it’s replete with inherent feuds that investigate and celebrate both fictional landscapes and material honesty.
LAND AFTER TIME at E. Tay Gallery on view from March 2, 2016 to April 2, 2016
39 White Street, New York, NY 10013
Curated by Christina Papanicolaou and Kelly Worman
Writing via press release
Photography provided by the gallery