The Fruit Eaters, 2013
Acrylic on linen
88 x 96 inches
Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London
© Barnaby Furnas. Photography: Stephen White
Untitled 10 from the Botánico Series (detail), 2011
Polyurethane foam, wood, resin, paint, fabric, fiberfill, rhinestones, trims, beads, feathers, moss, and artificial plants
70 x 28 x 24 inches
Courtesy the Artist
Garden hoses, brass hose ends, brass nozzle, cable ties, plastic
30 x 25 x 25 inches
Courtesy Peter Norton Collection, Los Angeles
Dwarfed Blue Pine, 2009-10
21 x 42 x 23 inches
Courtesy Sonnabend Gallery, New York, and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg
Vertical Garden (Weeds), 2007
Acrylic and ink mixed-media collage on mylar
53 x 35 inches
Collection of Katarina Maxianova and Aaron Hagedorn
Sparking of the Domesticated Synapses (Funkenbildung der domestizierten Synapsen), 2010
1 integrated projector and media player, diverse objects, wooden shelf or table, and fresh flowers Edition of 5 with 1 artist’s proof
Video duration: 5'34 minute loop
35 2/8 X 31 1/2 X 11 3/4 inches
Courtesy of the Artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, and Hauser & Wirth
Back to Eden
Contemporary Artists Wander the Garden
June 27–September 28, 2014
Back to Eden: Contemporary Artists Wander the Garden looks at the biblical story of the Garden of Eden, and how it has directly and indirectly inspired contemporary artists. In particular, the exhibition considers the Garden of Eden as a lens through which to view the relationship between humans and the natural world.
Artists in the Western world have used elements of the Garden of Eden story for centuries as potent symbols: the Creation of plants and animals, the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life, the Forbidden Fruit, the Serpent, the Fall of Man and the Expulsion from Eden. In this exhibition, contemporary artists continue to mine this rich resource for metaphors that are both personal and universal. Barnaby Furnas’s The Fruit Eaters takes the classic subject of Adam and Eve biting the apple, and renders it fresh and vital, with paint that seems to still be dripping, and a violent and malevolent serpent circling menacingly. Jim Dine’s Garden of Eden gate evokes happy childhood memories of his family’s tool store. Mark Dion, in a work created especially for this exhibition, presents a fantasy diorama of the serpent, imagining how he looked with legs, before he was cursed by God to crawl on his belly.
The garden has for centuries represented a perfect natural paradise that we have now lost. Several of the artists in the exhibition consider the ways in which humans have tried to recreate a “perfect garden.” Naomi Reis’s drawings of imaginary Modernist buildings are overlaid with lush plants and fountains that, like the Gardens of Babylon or the botanical gardens of Victorian times, show the attempt to recreate an exotic paradise within a completely foreign environment. In Lina Puerta’s installations, nature becomes the intruder, reinserting itself into the urban environment, intertwined with manmade sequins and buttons: a garden that is a mix of the natural and the manmade. Mary Temple's garden appears as a shadow cast on a gallery wall, caused by light streaming through an imaginary window.
Theologians continue to debate about the environmental implications of the story of Genesis: does the environment fall under the dominion of humans, and have value primarily through its use by them? Or was the environment given to humans for their stewardship, and were they intended to nurture it? Marina Zurkow looks at the often-disastrous effects of the dominion/stewardship attitudes towards nature; through her animation of a dystopian Times Square reclaimed by nature. Alexis Rockman's Gowanus similarly shows the evil results of manmade sewage on the natural environment in Brooklyn. These two artists bring the story of the Garden of Eden to MOBIA's home in New York City, reminding us that we have the opportunity to both achieve and lose Paradise all over again, right where we are.
Back to Eden is made possible by the generous support of The Bowden Family Fund and Case Systems. Additional support provided by the Atrium Café by Gabriel’s.
Major support for MOBIA's exhibitions and programs is provided by American Bible Society and by Howard and Roberta Ahmanson. Support for this program is provided, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.