NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Biblical Art
is organizing Back to Eden: Contemporary Artists Wander the Garden, an exhibition that explores the direct and indirect influence of the Genesis story of the Garden of Eden on artists working today. Back to Eden includes six new works commissioned by MOBIAthe first commissions in the museums historyas well as 13 pieces created in the past 15 years. Ranging from intimate paintings to large-scale installations, the works explore themes evoked by the story of Eden: loss, desire, the relationship between humans and the natural world, and the longing for an inaccessible paradise. The new commissions are by Anonda Bell, Sean Capone, Mark Dion, Dana Sherwood, Mary Temple, and Marina Zurkow; other works in the exhibition include pieces by Lynn Aldrich, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Mat Collishaw, Jim Dine, Barnaby Furnas, Adam Fuss, Rona Pondick, Naomi Reis, Lina Puerta, Pipilotti Rist, Alexis Rockman, and Fred Tomaselli. A number of the featured artists will visit MOBIA during the course of the exhibition to participate in a series of public programs. Back to Eden is curated by scholar and independent curator Jennifer Scanlan and are on view at MOBIA from June 27 through September 28, 2014.
The works MOBIA has commissioned for Back to Eden are:
Sean Capone a projected video installation that suggests a continuous cycle of growth, death, and rebirth by immersing the viewer in a morphing virtual garden.
Dana Sherwood a video installation that examines the seemingly futile human desire for control in the face of natural forces by documenting the artists practice of creating elaborate confections, leaving them outside, and letting animals and nature overtake them.
Marina Zurkow an animation depicting a dystopian future in which Times Square is taken over by nature, with the built world crumbling around powerless humans.
Mary Temple a trompe-l'oeil wall painting depicting light streaming through an imagined window and illusory trees and foliage outside casting shadows.
Anonda Bell a cut-paper installation depicting Lilith and Eve, exploring the construction of enduring, problematic archetypes through biblical narratives.
Mark Dion a diorama of the Gardens serpent, presenting the snake as he may have looked before he was condemned to spend eternity on his belly.
Back to Eden represents a tremendous opportunity for MOBIA to work with contemporary artists to reveal the influence of biblical narratives in todays culture and society, said MOBIAs director Richard P. Townsend. The story of Eden is a framework that gives contemporary artists access to universal themes, speaking to age-old human desires and potential. We are thrilled to commission works for the first time in the museums history, opening up new avenues for the museums exploration of the Bibles enduring influence on the visual and cultural landscape today.
Additional works featured in Back to Eden include:
Barnaby Furnas The Fruit Eaters (2013), a large-scale painting that evokes the classic subject of Adam and Eve biting the apple through a moment of temptation, loss, and menacing malevolence in a dreamlike landscape.
Jim Dine Garden of Eden (2003), a free-standing sculptural gate constructed from brightly painted objects from the artists childhood that celebrate the memory of an unsullied paradise.
Alexis Rockman Gowanus (2013), an intricate, large-scale painting that depicts the Gowanus Canal, the notorious Brooklyn Superfund site, as a toxic wasteland, reflecting the disastrous potential for the destruction of nature by man.
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons a mixed-media work, The One That Carries Fire (2011), exploring the tree and the female figure as archetypes that reach across cultures.
Naomi Reis Vertical Garden (Weeds) and Vertical Garden (Falling Water) (2007-8), drawings of imaginary Modernist buildings overlaid with lush plants and fountains that show the attempt to recreate an exotic paradise within a completely foreign environment.
Pipilotti Rist Sparking of the Domesticated Synapses (Funkenbildung der domestizierten Synapsen) (2010), an installation that explores the desire to control the natural world and the potential to destroy it. A shelf with a vase, flowers, and projected video demonstrates the elements of pleasure and control that are inherent in the act of flower arranging.
Fred Tomaselli Study for Expulsion (2000), a mixed-media painting that depicts Adam and Eve, referencing Masaccios Expulsion (early 15th century), dwarfed by a constellation of psychotropic drugs, flowers, plants, bugs, birds, and snakes.