Locks Gallery is pleased to present Arcade/Arcadia, an installation by Ellen Harvey, on view
June 1st through July 27th, 2012. There will be a reception for the artist on Friday, June 1st
from 5:30 to 7:30pm.
Ellen Harvey is known for her use of traditional media or aesthetics to create situations
that call into question our expectations and desires for art. In Arcade/Arcadia (2011–12) an
amusement arcade collides with a gallery to create an unsettling embodiment of how easily
the desire for the sublime can collapse into an acceptance of commercial spectacle.
From the outside, the viewer sees an old-fashioned aluminum fairground sign spelling out
the word “ARCADIA” in six foot high lights leaning against an open framework wood shack.
The inside of the structure is filled with the artist’s characteristic hand-engraved mirrors
mounted on light boxes, offering a 360-degree view of a derelict seaside resort. The engravings
appear as lines of light floating on the mirrored surfaces and viewers see themselves
inside an endlessly mirrored drawing in light.
The town portrayed is Margate, a once famous English seaside destination, now fallen into
disrepair, where the 18th Century painter J. M. W. Turner, famous for his dramatic light-filled
canvases, lived with his lover Mrs. Booth for many years. The painter was maintaining a
gallery in London dedicated solely to exhibiting his work, on which Harvey based the dimensions
for the structure of Arcade/Arcadia. The size and arrangement of the mirrors recreate
Exterior view, Arcade/Arcadia, 2011–12, mixed media installation
those of the paintings shown in George Jones’ two paintings of Turner laid out in his gallery
after his death.
The sign on the outside of the structure references not only Turner’s view of Margate as an
Arcadian site but also the amusement arcade aesthetic that has come to dominate the seaside
experience. The typeface of the sign is based on that of Margate’s currently shuttered
Dreamland Amusement Park. Similarly, the endlessly mirroring mirrors inside reference the
fun-house mirror in which reality is bent. The mirrored panorama reinserts present-day Margate
into the aesthetics of its more picturesque past at the same time that it stakes a claim
for the melancholy beauty of the degraded present.
Ellen Harvey was born in the United Kingdom and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She is a
graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program and took part in the P.S.1 National Studio
Program. She has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and internationally and was included
in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Recent solo exhibitions include The Nudist Museum Giftshop
at Dodge Gallery, New York; The Nudist Museum at the Bass Museum, Miami Beach, FL;
Picturesque Pictures at Galerie Gebruder Lehmann in Berlin, Germany; Empty Collections at
Galerie Meessen de Clercq, Brussels, Belgium; Ruins are More Beautiful at the Center for
Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland; Mirror at the Pennsylvania Academy; and A Whitney for
the Whitney at Philip Morris at the Whitney Museum at Altria. She has completed projects
for both the New York and Chicago Transit Authorities, most recently including a mosaic
for the new Metro-North Yankee Stadium Station, and is currently working on commissions
for the Federal Government’s Art in Architecture program, New York’s Percent for Art and
the Philadelphia International Airport (in collaboration with Jan Baracz). Her book, The New
York Beautification Project, was published by Gregory Miller in 2005 and Ellen Harvey: Mirror
was published by the Pennsylvania Academy in 2006. A monograph Ellen Harvey: The
Museum of Failure will be published by Gregory Miller in 2013. This will be Harvey’s second
exhibition at Locks Gallery.
Locks Gallery is located at 600 Washington Square South in Philadelphia, PA. Gallery hours
are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm. In July and August our summer hours take
effect, opening Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm. For additional information, please
contact Locks Gallery at 215.629.1000 voice, 215.629.3868 fax, or firstname.lastname@example.org