Places we've never been
Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco , CA
June 11-August 22, 2009
Stephen Wirtz Gallery presents places we have never been, an exhibition of new objects and installations by the collaborative artists castaneda/reiman. This new work reflects the artists’ ongoing concern with the relationships between the natural landscape and landscape transformed by the human hand.
The source materials for these new works are the artists’ combined personal collection of found landscape paintings, reflecting a 20-year-long mutual obsession and featuring works from the 19th century to the present. These materials reflect a variety of artistic skill levels, with representations of actual natural settings and others that are imagined or idealized.
At first glance, the installation appears to include these traditional landscape paintings. However, upon closer inspection, the installation is revealed as a collection of ersatz replicas, constructed from plywood panels, drywall mud and other materials commonly found on construction sites—a methodology that has been consistently associated with castaneda/reiman’s art-making practice. These replicas are presented unframed to suggest a continuing panorama. Just as landscape paintings function in domestic spaces as stand-ins or reminders of places or horizons, the representations in the installation serve as stand-ins for the paintings themselves.
For this collection, oak hardwood serves as a symbol of how elements of the natural world are placed into the service of interior domestic landscapes. Multiple units of stacked drywall are framed in oak, subtly and ambiguously suggesting the fabrication of a home, secondary baseboard or the framing of a painting. These units exist in the gallery as pedestals or foundations for the replicas, and thus themselves become objects of note in this created environment, speaking to their materiality and the manner in which representations of the outdoors function inside.
To further question this notion, castaneda/reiman have created cast replicas of rocks—fabricated from a porcelain often used to make precious domestic objects—and included them among them the paintings.