Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Resist: Inauguration at Una Gallery
Early February links
First Thursday Picks February 2017
Dead tree media & dead horse flogging news
Post Snowpocalypse Weekend Picks
More Disjecta'd
New Year opportunities
Monday Integrity Links
First Thursday Picks January 2017
Jason Berlin + Alanna Risse at Rainmaker
Saying goodby to 2016
Mid December Links

recent comments

categories

 

Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Essays
Interviews
News
Openings & Events
Photoblogs
Reviews
Video
Links
About PORT

regular contributors

 

Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman

archives

 

Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us

 

Contact us

search

 


syndicate

 

Atom
RSS

powered by

 

Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a

 

Creative Commons License

Friday 07.17.09

« Joseph Park @ PAM | Main | more white stag talks »

Amy Stein at Blue Sky

At Blue Sky, Amy Stein's Domesticated series does a good job of portraying the loaded interaction between animals and supposedly more domesticated environs. Thus, the animals are both ecological signifiers and manifestations of that old Victorian fear of our own animal nature.. but instead of the genteel Dr. Jeckl and brutish Mr Hyde the series is based on real stories from local newspapers and oral histories. The images are set in Matamoras Pennsylvania, a small town which borders a state forest.

domesticated_2.jpg
Watering Hole (2005)

Yet, despite this documentary starting point the strongest works also tend to be the most theatrical, taking the diorama into the realm of drama. In some ways this work reminds me a bit of Fritz Haeg but differs as it more concerned with the story of interaction than the animal habitat, which makes Haeg's animal home-building viewpoint a lot more radical.

For example, Watering Hole, an image of a bear watching a young girl on a diving board is highly staged but is somehow more effective than Cuttings with its dead (once domestic) bunny in a wheelbarrow with garden clippings. In Watering Hole the bear could just as easily be an animal surrogate for some creepy peeping tom. This really works as it substitutes fear of the unknown for a general and very understandable fear of bears. Fact is, the peeping tom's motives would be easier to ascertain, making the bear a more effective component.

domesticated_Cuttings.jpg
Cuttings

Conversely I think the violence in Cuttings is brittle in its didacticism and shuts down the mystery here, same for images like Trasheaters (a scene with coyotes eating trash) and Backyard (where a man shoots a turkey in you guessed it, his backyard). Whereas, a less didactic image like Riverside with its bobcat near a bridge lets the mind wander and construct additional scenarios

domesticated_Struggle.jpg
Struggle (2008)

Didactic narratives aren't the enemy here though since Struggle (an image of a black bear with its face caught in a plastic bag) is one of the very best of the series. It is both terrifying and fascinating in the way it addresses the viewer so effectively, despite being a staged didactic construction.

domesticated_Nursery.jpg
Nursery

Whereas Nursery with its fawn in a greenhouse just feels like a restaged event that lacks the drama of finding a real fawn indoors. Instead, the fawn here has the look of a dog eagerly waiting to go outside and play fetch.

It has always been fascinating to me why people open up to animals in art so much... artists like Fischli and Weiss, Malia Jensen, Laura Fritz and Fritz Haeg have made careers of it, but I sense that Amy Stein is just starting to hit her stride with this series. Unlike those other artists who know how to make the viewer address the animal in front of them as well as the animal within Stein is just starting to elicit her viewer's response with Struggle,which is one of her latest works.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 17, 2009 at 17:21 | Comments (0)


Comments

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?


s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee