Josh Hagler: The River Lethe Elizabeth Dorbad: Itinerant Architectures
Updated: May 13, 2020
June 30 - August 24, 2018
Joshua Hagler - The River Lethe
The River Lethe is a solo exhibition of Josh Hagler’s paintings, sculpture, and installation artwork. Since 2006, Hagler's work has responded to religious fundamentalism in America, the history of Westward Expansion, notions of progress and exploration, mythology, and the poetics of theoretical physics. This current body of work draws inspiration from Lethe, the Greek mythological river of forgetting. It was said that one drinks from Lethe before being reborn, losing most or all memory of the past. German philosopher, Heidegger interpreted Lethe not as a simple accident of forgetting, but as a “concealment of being.” The task for Heidegger was “unconcealment,” in turn Hagler sets to uncover personal truths by examining America’s cultural amnesia and psychological repression. The work comprising The River Lethe was made over a two year period beginning in Los Angeles and ending at the Roswell Artist in Residence Program in New Mexico.
A large-scale sculptural and sound installation consists of a canoe of translucent horsehide quietly suspended between two doors alongside horse and cattle bones. It recalls 19th-century overland expeditions which kick-started Westward Expansion in early America. Sounds subtly emit from either door in a call-and-response fashion, echoing between past and future, and evoking a more ethereal orientation with time.
Another installation, entitled “Mother,” makes use of a found cattle feed chute covered in bullet holes floating above a pair of plaster child-sized Moon Boots, unavoidably suggestive of American gun violence and its victims, and, for the artist, of unspoken memory and trauma at the center of his own family.
A number of intricately layered large-scale figurative paintings examine and reinterpret fraught 19th- century historical imagery ranging from film stills of early propaganda movies to frontier paintings. The image is transformed in repetition and erasure, seemingly suspended in a state of simultaneous excavation and decay.
Other paintings loosely reference Hagler’s own photographs taken in areas near the Missouri- and Snake Rivers, which were early overland river routes used in exploration. Referred to as landscapes by the artist, many works have the appearance of abstract paintings. The locations from which the images originate are rich with history and memory, and show evidence of vast scales of time at work. For the artist, the subject is the felt presence of memory in the environment, more than the landscape itself.
Joshua Hagler has exhibited in galleries and museums in North and South America, Europe, and Australia, including a long list of solo exhibitions. He is a frequent columnist for Venison Magazine and a recipient of numerous awards and residencies. In the summer of 2017, he was awarded a spot at MICA’s Alfred and Trafford Klots Program for Artists in Brittany, France. A solo exhibition at the Roswell Museum and Art Center in New Mexico is planned for November of this year.
Elizabeth Dorbad - Itinerant Architectures
Elizabeth Dorbad’s on-going, global series Itinerant Architectures makes use of mobile home trailers as subject matter, material and symbol. The nomadic structures are of course found throughout the world, but in the woods and junkyards of California the use of these vehicles as buildings takes on particular associations evoking thoughts of frontierism, Western expansion, and civilization on the fringe of wilderness. The site-specific works, architectural interventions and sculpture rendered from architectural refuse point away from the built world and back toward the wilderness: iconic, heroic and untamed. Initiated in 2012, Itinerant Architectures has had iterations in Memphis, Baltimore, San Francisco, Oakland, Badger, Berlin, Kassel, New York and Los Angeles.
Elizabeth Dorbad exhibits in museums and galleries internationally with solo exhibitions in New York, San Francisco and Berlin. She practices in an expanded field of sculpture, utilizing methods broadly ranging from bronze casting, photography, film/video, performance, architectural intervention, installation and social action. In 2015, she founded Orations, a nonprofit visual arts project working for the advancement of civil rights and social justice. Dorbad has been a visiting critic at the University of California Berkeley. She is represented by Unspeakable Projects in New York.