Feature

The Wilderness

The art featured in the Miami Art Museum's group exhibit examines man's “uneasy relationship” with the natural world.

Miami Art MuseumThrough June 26

Nature is a volatile mistress, said Tom Austin in The Miami Herald. As MAM’s latest group exhibition makes plain, plumbing this “dysfunctional love affair” can yield seriously trippy art. For Still Life With Stampede and Wild Birds, installation artist David Brooks left concrete statues of galloping animals inside a local wild-bird refuge until they were covered in “rather painterly guano stains.” Kookier still: Allan McCollum’s The Event: Petrified Lightning From Central Florida, the result of six weeks spent directing lightning into strategically positioned vessels of sand. Direct hits produced fulgurites, pieces of glass actually shaped like lightning bolts. The McCollum installation consists of 10,000 replicas of a single fulgurite, displayed alongside thousands of neatly stacked booklets whose titles gently mock man’s attempts to comprehend curious natural phenomena. The titles range from goofily upbeat (Something New in Fulgurites) to 19th-century spooky (References to Lightning in the Holy Bible). It’s bizarre, heady stuff.

Consistently, though, the art asks that we show more humility in our attempts to subjugate nature, said Carlos Suarez de Jesus in the Miami New Times. For Fernando Ortega’s “unusual” video Hummingbird Induced to a Deep Sleep, the artist hired an ornithologist to help him create the conditions necessary to “encourage the hummingbird to grab a siesta in his Mexico City studio.” Eerily, despite the din of traffic and blaring horns, the hypnotized bird sits motionless for a full hour, making a viewer more uneasy by the minute. Darren Almond’s “equally uncanny” video Arctic Pull features a lone figure pulling a sled through a Siberian blizzard at night. “As the man laboriously battles the permafrost,” the wind seems to howl in the dark projection space, “transporting the viewer to shivering, foreign climes.” How’s that for man’s “uneasy relationship” with the natural world?

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