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Candida Höfer: zoologische gärten | Jennie Smith: new works    Mar 11 - Apr 10, 2010

Zoologischer Gärten Paris II
Candida Höfer
Zoologischer Gärten Paris II, 1997
The People, The Land (what was found)
Jennie Smith
The People, The Land (what was found), 2009
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CANDIDA HOFER: zoologische gärten
Reception: March 11, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

In zoologische gärten, Candida Höfer shifts her focus away from interiors to take viewers on an international tour of zoos in Germany, Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands. Implementing her typically descriptive style, Höfer's images again seek to deconstruct the role institutions play in defining the viewer's gaze by documenting animals in their caged environments. Enclosures, which the viewer begins to sense are, in fact, elaborate stage settings - modernist imaginings of a utopian natural world. However, the exotic, wild animals such as alligators, elephants, tigers, and giraffes appear listless, despondent, and are turned away from the camera - marginalized within their own surroundings. Within this context, Höfer strips the zoos of their magical luster, revealing not only the vast disparity between reality and the idealized, but also, perhaps, offering commentary on exactly how passive the gaze of the viewer within an institutional environment has become.


JENNIE SMITH: new works
Reception: March 11, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Jennie Smith continues to expand on her visual lexicon of lush and delicate worlds in her third exhibition at the Rena Bransten Gallery. In her new body of work, Smith explores the problematic relationship between humankind and nature. Utilizing the action of drawing as a process to stream the unconscious, Smith conjures narrative scenes about animals and humans who have lost habitat and home. The drawings depict empty garments of displaced people - homeless and landless for political or environmental reasons. Animals mend their own habitats or morph themselves into kites and find their future in the open expanse of the sky. Through her work, Smith hopes to create some type of accountability for our species while simultaneously, through the use of the collective human imagination, offering a glimpse into a better world.

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