Testo di Giulia Ponzano
Accordingly to Greek mythology, Arcadia was one version of paradise, the virgin and wild home of Pan – the god of the forest – and his court of dyads. Virgil in his ‘Eclogues’ described it as a desolated land of pastoral tranquillity and rigorous law: the same sense of clouded reality seemingly emerges in the current group exhibition ‘Artificial Arcadia’ at Bosse and Baum, located in the refreshing yet mature territory of Peckham. ‘Artificial Arcadia’ presents a ‘possible’ and surreal world in which humans develop a form of empathy with the natural world. An authentic ‘utopia’ that depicts together anywhere and nowhere.
The gallery is transformed not only into a platform for artworks, but into a performance space and a forum for events and workshops as well: ‘Plantón Móvil’, staged by the artist Lucia Monge, will take place on July 30th to mark the end of the exhibition. This project started in Lima in 2010 and it consists in giving the plants and the trees the opportunity to walk down the streets of a city that is also theirs: like a small forest peacefully claiming its place and respect. We will have the opportunity to lend our mobility to plants; in return, we may momentarily borrow some of their slowness.
The exhibition becomes an example of human-ecosystem collaboration, focusing on current concerns with cultivation, artificial production, collective organising, activism and arranging. Carson Fisk-Vittori’s works, oscillating between artificiality and naturalness, aim to analyse the complex interactions between humans and the dynamic landscape. Through her sculptures ‘Temperature ranking’ (2015) consisting in two hypothetical weather machines, she reveals how we experience and manipulate our environment. May Hands’ works lightly hangs down from the ceiling: employing unconventional elements like organic, found and synthetic materials, it describes from an anthropological perspective, the nature of our contemporary society. Walking through Hands’ everyday urban leftovers, we glimpse the paper-based works by Freya Douglas-Morris and we are transported into an illusionistic environment: a variety of signs, flora, foliage and pattern are melted together to create different times of day, season and atmospheres. Utopian worlds, presenting artificial constructs and playing with our own experience and imagination.
‘Artificial Arcadia’ provides us inputs to reflect on our relationship with the surrounding environment, on crossing thresholds of another land where a different kind of culture can flourish. Exploring this exhibition is like exploring the distances between our way of observing, moving and making contact with the ‘otherness’ and the nature itself. It represents an alternative experience, the impulse and the ecological consciousness we need in order to change our n eighbourhoods, cities, and states.