Surveying the Terrain at CAM Raleigh
explores how ten contemporary artists are using maps, mapping technologies, cartography, surveying, science and politics to create artworks. Renowned artists in the exhibition include Vik Muniz, Trevor Paglen, David Maisel, Mishka Henner, Doug Rickard, Matthew Jensen, Clement Valla, Laura Kurgan, Maya Lin and Alfredo Jaar. This exhibition includes photography, sculpture, light installation and video.
Surveying the Terrain focuses on how artists relationships to the Earth, the art they create, and our relationships to each other are condensed, extended, distorted and interpreted by beauty, politics, environmental degradation, poverty, surveillance, privacy and censorship. The determining factor in selecting the artists and artworks was aesthetic value. Art works chosen are intended to create a counter-environment making visible and beautiful what is normally invisible in our society.
Throughout history, artists have painted, drawn and illustrated maps. They have used globes, images and pieces of maps, surveying technologies and map metaphors to create art works. More recently, a number of artists are actively using mapping applications, satellite images and other technologies to create new and challenging works of art. Some, like Maya Lin are using technological methods to study and visualize topographies and geographic phenomena and translating the information into sculptural forms. Others, like Doug Rickard and Matthew Jensen are using easily accessible technology like Google Street View to extend their exploration of landscapes, the figure in the landscape and urban scenes. The artists then create art by photographing computer monitors, capturing screenshots or combining these found images with Photoshop. Still others like Mishka Henner and Laura Kurgan are using images from Google Earth Pro, Ikonos and QuickBird satellites to create otherworldly abstractions. David Maisel uses aerial photography and Trevor Paglen uses telescopes typically employed in astrophotography in order to shoot distant places and bring our attention to subjects that are often strange and unfamiliar. Many of these artists are using mapping as metaphors to help convey a better sense about the mechanics of the world and our place in it.
As with all exhibitions at CAM Raleigh, the most current and culturally relevant themes and works of art are selected; Surveying the Terrain is no exception. The Wall Street Journals September 13, 2013 article, The Fine Art of Spying, depicted surveillance art, featuring three of the artists whose works is on view in this exhibition.
Dan Solomon, an avid Southern California-based photography collector is the guest curator of Surveying the Terrain. He has curated the following exhibitions: Edweard Muybridge in Panama and Mexico, Edward Curtis: Sites and Structures, Stieglitz and his Circle the Art of the Photogravure and The Beauty of the Albumen Print. He has served on the J. Paul Getty Museum of Arts Photographs Council, the Art Institute of Chicago's Committee on Photography and the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts Photographic Arts Council. The Mary and Dan Solomon photography collection is housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Along with his wife, Mary, he edited Sites & Structures: The Architectural Photographs of Edward S. Curtis which The New York Times named one of the best photography books of 2000. He is working on a book of Idris Kahn's photographs which will be published later this year. His first book of photographs, Witness, will be published by Nazraeli Press in November.