On view in Venture Room
August 26 through September 30, 2017
"Since moving to New Mexico three years ago I have felt a deep connection with the land," says McLaurine. "I’ve been compelled, almost obsessed, with hiking out into the wilderness and photographing everything. The intense light, the sharp textures of spiny plants, the warm colors of the desert, all beg to be photographed. For over a century, photographers have journeyed to the Southwest to create some of the most emblematic landscapes ever produced. As I began to settle in and create my own images, I found that I could not escape this. Every image I made was beautiful, yet nothing felt uniquely my own. Each bore the weight of photography’s inescapable history. In response, I began a series of interventions that explore not only the landscape, but the role of artists in designating and recording beauty. Using the most recognizable structure of the gallery exhibition, a white pedestal, I hike into the landscape and ‘install’ a piece of the natural environment on the pedestal. The dual actions of removing the exhibition-object from its traditional environment and elevating a natural object into an art context highlights and questions the paradoxical ability of the artist to designate beauty. The playfulness of photographing this unnatural installation encourages and is encouraged by a sense of institutional critique. As a contemporary artist, I recognize that I may not be able to make any truly new images, but through intervention I can make images that allow the viewer to see something familiar anew."