Sunday, March 1, 2015

"The Horizon Tries:" New Mixed Media by Lana Cmajcanin, Fokus Grupa, Curated by Lala Rascic

Is there "a secret harmony that exists between the earth and humanity" that we ignore at our own  peril? The 19th century French geographer, anarchist and animal rights activist, Elisee Reclus, thought so, and during his over two year sojourn in Louisiana, starting in 1853, he was shocked by the rampant way our  wilderness areas were plundered for their resources. His belief, "Whatever we do to nature, we inevitably do to ourselves," became prophetic in retrospect as our industry-ravaged wetlands increasingly lost their capacity to protect us from hurricanes. Although his presence in this show is most obvious in a reliquary exhibit, top (detail), including books, publications and even a bottle of wine from his family vinyard, his views are often echoed in works by Bosnian and Croatian artists in this exhibition organized by Sarajevo, Zagreb and New Orleans-based artist-curator, Lala Rascic.

Into the Dusk Charged Air, above left, Rascic's reverse painting on glass, depicts all of the rivers cited by John Ashbery in his poem of the same name as a meandering maze of lines--a tangle of tides appearing as a kind of geographical Gordian Knot, above. Rivers often denote borders in regions that can throb with the competing claims of rival national cultures, and Bosnian artist Lana Cmajcanin's Geometry of Time, above, is a vintage map of Europe with every change of national boundaries recorded in a vortex of overlapping lines that collectively all but obscure the Balkan region. The Croatian collective, Fokus Grupa, takes on the old European conundrum of nature and nationalism in a video that intimates how even serene national park scenes can embody underlying geopolitical tensions. This returns us to the realm of Reclus, and on March 7 at 6 pm, his translator, John Clark, presents a lecture, Elisee Reclus & the Apocalyptic Social Geography of New Orleans, followed on March 8 at 4 pm by an artist talk, Abstraction and Landscape, featuring Jessica Bizer and Brian Guidry. ~Bookhardt   

The Horizon Tries: Mixed Media by Lala Rascic, Fokus Grupa and Lana Cmajcanin, Through March 8, Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 616-7427.