International exhibitions

International 2011 Archives

Lucy + Jorge Orta, Amazonia
Motive Gallery, Amsterdam (Netherlands).
12.03 - 29.04.2011

07.09 - 25.11.2012

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Press release

For their new body of work Amazonia, Lucy + Jorge Orta were desply inspired by their expedition to the Peruvian Amazon during the sommer of 2009, which proved an arduous, yet mesmerizing experience. The sculpture and photography on display at Morive Gallery are an edited version of the exhibition Amazonia, which was commissionned by the Natural History Museum London as part of the International Year of Biodiversity 2010.

Recording through photography, video and sound Lucy + Jorge Orta found the Amazon to be a beautiful oasis of diversity, in a state of crisis. The region proved to become an emotionnal and conceptual starting point to restore our focus to the world around us, both its beauty and its imperilled state. Amazonia did become a state of mind through which the artists strive to revive our deep enjoyement of nature as such and to convey its value to our daily lives and to our survival.

During the expedition to the Peruvian Amazon, the artists travelled with scientists from the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) at Oxford University and scientists from Peru. Their journey took them to the Manù Biosphere Reserve, where Lucy and Jorge started to develop the series of photographs Perpetuel Amazonia (one-metre-square S12 48 21.6 W71 24 17.6). Together with the scientists they mapped out a one-hectare plot of rainforest to which the coordinates in the title and on each photograph refer to. Starting with a specific piece of land and the experience in the Manù Biosphere Reserve, the series captures images of plants from around the world and from diverse ecosystems.

Life on our planet is in constant flux. There has been life on Earth for 3-5 billion years, since the first living organisms are estimated to have emerged. Since then there have been five mass extinctions, which caused changes on Earth. Extinctions are a natural part of life, but the current rate of loss is about 100 to 1.000 times what it should be. This decline in plants, insects, birdsn amphibians, sea-life and other living organisms has become known as the sixth mass extinction, and has one distinguishing characteristic : it is caused by humans.

The larger-than-life aluminium sculptures, entitled Bone Variation, are modelled on fossilised dinosaur bones from the Mueseum’s palaeontology collection. Despite the colourful, iridescent finish, they remain relies of death, a reminder of the many forms of life that have been shaped through evolution, giving us a tangible sense of the contemporary and of times past.

The work Collection Aepyornis, Gallimimus, Allosaurus, Palaeomastodon is made of fragile porcelain fragments of life. They are casts from specimens in the Natural History Museum collection ; the egg from the elephant bird Aepyornis, the limb bones from dinosaurs Gallimimus and Allosaurus and the elephant ancestor Palaeomastodon. Bones are memento mori, reminders of death. But the egg is birth, the start of life. The flowers, butterflies and insects that populate these works point to the cycle of life and the beauty and wealth of our planet. There is an underlying melancholy of the end of time, and the hot breath of extinction. Seeing ourselves as occupying a moment in time, through the reflexion of the mirrored surface, makes us question our arrogance over nature and the need to work with it rather than against it.

The drawing entitled Amazonia Expedition Sketchbook reflect the artists’ first impressions of and responses to their journey. The works conceptualize the experience of the Amazonian expedition and the artists’ understanding of the connections between us and the natural environment. We are part of nature and the iconography in the drawings playfully depicts the mutuel dependency. But in fact, we are more dependent on nature than nature is on us – our presence brings about nature’s decline – and human decline with it, unless we choose to change and find solutions to these local and global problems by placing us within nature, not outside of it.

Exhibition 12 March through 29 April 2011. Motive Gallery, Ms. Van Riemsdijkweg 41a – 1033 RC Amsterdam. The Nederlands. Tel. : +31 (0)20 330 3668. Open Wednesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm.

Lucy + Jorge Orta, Amazonia, Motive Gallery, Amsterdam

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2012. All Rights Reserved