a Project space
25 calvin st, spitalfields, london e1 6nw
tel/ fax: 020 7247 5227
www.coverup.org.uk

A Clearing
Landscape and Natural History Series

Cover Up project space presented five exhibitions of contemporary art engaged with natural history and landscape. Each exhibition took place over three to six days and included artists and curators from Europe and America. These events were not a comprehensive survey of their theme, but rather a sequence of pipette samples from a broad territory of activity. This series was directed by Finlay Taylor and invited curators and gallerists.

A Clearing
19th - 27th April 2003

Stephen Bitterolf
Ken Fandell
Tim and Frantiska Gilman
Anna Hostvedt
Michael Wilson

curated by Michael Wilson

‘A Clearing’, which borrows its title from a track on Brian Eno’s 1982 album ‘Ambient 4: On Land,’ images a series of liminal spaces that exist in a hinterland between uninflected nature and the influence of human aspiration. Adding conceptual rigour to the contemplative observation traditionally associated with the depiction of landscape, they aim at a rediscovery of the potential in those elements of our environment that have come to appear universal, overfamiliar or anonymous.

Stephen Bitterolf’s photographically precise pencil studies of small areas of grass in New York City parks record the filtration of an apparently arbitrary subject through fine-tuned academic discipline. Images of life boxed in by the urban grid, a narrowed focus leaves their further context and purpose uncertain. Once our initial astonishment at their veracity subsides, we find ourselves searching for clues as to what might have happened, or could still happen, here.

Also produced from direct observation, Anna Hostvedt’s painting represents an attempt to understand how atmosphere and memory mould the space of landscape. In these quiet, still places that hover between urban and rural, natural and built structures assume an almost anthropomorphic quality as they slowly seek to overcome each other.

Tim and Frantiska Gilman’s collaged frieze is constructed from picture-perfect landscape photographs clipped from magazines, travel brochures and catalogues. Aligned to form a continuous horizon line, they recall Myriorama, a nineteenth century game featuring twenty-four illustrated cards that may be laid out side-by-side in any order to form numerous variations on a theme. The variety of nature here becomes a set of possibilities for human manipulation.

Ken Fandell’s ever-expanding tracing of a mountain range from a Crystal Geyser water bottle label also plays on an idealised view of nature as picturesque and functional, but existing always in relation to human need.

Finally, Michael Wilson’s screenprinted flyposters evoke unpopulated spaces through the verbal description of selected details, the particular significance or insignificance of which remains ambiguous. Pastel-tinted and pasted directly to the gallery wall, they threaten to merge with their environment, suggesting a world existing on the very edge of consciousness.

Image: Michael Wilson

Installation shot

Michael Wilson

Anna Hostvedt

Stephen Bitterolf

Stephen Bitterolf (detail)

Tim and Frantiska Gilman

Tim and Frantiska Gilman (detail)

Ken Fandell

Ken fandell (detail)