Thursday, October 17, 2013

The art of shaping the future CENTRAL BOOKING Un/Natural Occurrences

Art and science themed exhibition Un/Natural Occurrences with work by twenty-five artists and collaboratives invites viewers to participate in re-greening the world. The collaboration in this show does not feel contemporary much, but an art book form as a means uniquely arouse the viewer’s insights. Book in nature is both informative and artistic, and its natural presence creates a welcoming and familiar vibe to the viewer. Cluttered works and immense information in a tight setting make the space somewhat like a public library. 

Environmental arts or sustainable arts can be done and shown in such a cliché way, however the gallery presents what artist books can do with unnatural issues in poetic way, philosophical way, and sustainable way naturally. This exhibition involves three players: the scientist, the engineer, and the artist. This creative approach from intimate relations between art and science is truly successful and fulfills its purpose. Another fruitful outcome of this show are the various forms of each artist’s conceptual books. Twenty-five artists have resisted the comfort of single-minded interpretation of what artist book can be in contemporary art world. The show contains many forms of book art such as painting, prints, sculpture, postcard, photo, and video art. Plus, the curator, Maddy Rosenberg is including the work of established artists like Tatana Kellner to emerging artists like Travis Childers. This wide arrangement of artists speaks to the young and the old instead of setting to one side, and it separates Central booking from other galleries in LES.

The works documents not only global such as global warming and nuclear waste, but also local environmental issues like climate change in United States. Susan Goethel Campbell depicts the night views of cities, atmospheric phenomena, and patterns of urbanization in a series of relief prints Aerials. The wood grains in her prints interestingly contrast with geometric cityscapes. The relationship between the natural and unnatural (artificial) she plays in her series of prints seems like subtly portraying the whole theme of the show. Artists can bring humanistic elements into environmental issues and arouse others like science can’t. 


  1. I agree that this show was unique and had a lot to offer, and you definitely played up these positive aspects and I think an average reader would find this show interesting and be more likely to go see it. I think it was great that you singled out specific artists and works, and I think it could be helped by citing a few more. Perhaps if you broke down what works demonstrate the artist, engineer, and scientist? The organization of the review is a little confusing at times, but I think could be quickly fixed with a little more sentence structuring and possibly more paragraphs.

  2. I mostly agree with Jes, some of the structuring made it difficult to understand your perception of the show, but I think in the end you made it clear that the positives outweighed the negatives. The Campbell prints were the strongest of the show in my opinion, instilling a tension between what is seemingly beautiful while be confronted with issues of urbanization and global warming, as you already stated. Although I have to disagree with your comment on the space feeling as a public library, to me it felt more as an arts boutique implying that their main mission was to sell, sell, sell while making works on view secondary.

  3. Two things about your review: first, it's difficult to describe with words the full sense of a diverse group show such as this one. Perhaps you could have focused on a few of the show's major pieces rather than attempting to describe the breadth of the show? Trying to cover a vast group show in so few words is a major challenge...

    Secondly, the exact nature of the exhibition space might bear mentioning: particularly, the fact that the gallery only takes up about 1/3 of the area's space and is situated behind a gift shop. The divide between politically charged contemporary art and commercialized kitsch is great, and upon seeing the show I was initially confused by this strange relationship.