Empire, the exhibition currently on view at ClampArt by collaborative artist duo Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber, offers a simultaneously fantastical, and perhaps uncomfortably imaginable, peek at the artists’ musings on the apocalypse. Large-scale photographs depicting the fallout of a civilization-ending catastrophe, Empire presents a poetically beautiful glimpse of the physical ruins of the urban landscape and natural environments.
Though the majority of the exhibition consists of these photographs, as final objects they hint at only part of the artistic prowess that went into their creation. Each image represents the documentation of painstakingly detailed miniature dioramas created by the artists, envisioning a world of their own making in each instance. The veracity of the images to the reality of the city thriving just outside the gallery doors is breathtaking, especially when viewed alongside the “artifacts” from the dioramas also on display in the gallery – scaled-down replicas of newspaper dispensers and the like.
Upon second glance however, one realizes that the images are simply too photogenic in their ruination, in an almost cinematic and painterly way, and must be the result of such ingenious manipulations of scale and reality. The tones that color the sky blend together just too perfectly, and the buildings, in their stark and yet loaded neutrality, resemble those in an Edward Hopper painting.
The stillness of these outdoor settings – utterly devoid of life for some time, as if outsiders suddenly stumbles upon a ghost town – adds to the guttural emotional resonance of the images. Given the ongoing discussion of climate change, and well, potential nuclear war, threats of annihilation as depicted here may seem more real than ever. By imbuing the works in Empire with intense detail and a palpable sympathy for the imagined apocalyptic settings (if the cities, as well as their inhabitants, can be viewed as victims), Nix and Gerber provide their audience with a source of cathartic release in a time of uncertainty at home and abroad.
Lori Nix/Kathleen Gerber | Empire at ClampArt
November 30, 2017 – January 27, 2018
247 West 29th Street, Ground Floor New York, NY 10001