Salt Lake City
Jan. 1 – Feb. 28
Office Space is proud to present heart of a stone image, Patrick Winfield Vogel’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. This complex installation examines the ecology of an imagined future wherein political unrest, climate change, and the rapidly mutating epidemic of 2020 become the nexus for a speculative utopia. Despite our seemingly bleak present, Vogel’s conjunction of actor-network theory, neo-Marxist critique, and environmental Deleuzian assemblage acts as a harbinger for a desirable matrix of his own exploration into a grafted vision of our shared community.
Of this piece, the artist states the following, “How do we queer the future? How do we go beyond the quicksand of the present into a more habitable, more livable ground than the one we have been handed by centuries of ‘progress’? Like an ancient redwood hollowed out by a shock half a century old, we are inside the heart of a civilization that is dying but that still continues to network leaves and sprouts in peculiar directions.
We are told by resilience theorists that the best we can do is build bigger seawalls and raise the streets of Miami, learn to stay with the trouble of living and dying on a damaged planet, and get used to the aesthetic of ruins. For many the situation signs an interminable disaster. But negative characterizations of chaos and confusion hide the potential for transformation, a moment at the end of an old cycle.
With heart of a stone image, I worked with the idea of hope as both critical affect and methodology. This was a challenging year, and the blind spots that caused it have not been remedied but enlarged—increased austerity, massive consolidation of wealth, and violence demonstrate neoliberalism’s inability to come to grips with the long emergency that is the 21st century. In her 2020 book Anthropocene Back Loop, Stephanie Wakefield suggests we cultivate ‘the ability to see the Anthropocene not as a tragic End or world of ruins, but a scrambling where possibility is present, old codes are becoming unhelpful, and the future is wide open ground.’ I take this as an invitation to social and political rewilding.
When we accept the dread and miserable plan of what might be called genocide or suicide capitalism, apocalypticism and new ends of the world abound. But they don’t help the future generations coming in ten, twenty, fifty years. Our children will be dealing with our trash, our pollution, and today’s choices whether we decide to transform our collective attitudes or not. Yes it is hard to imagine. Yes it will be complicated, messy, and expensive. But isn’t that better than face planting into extinction?”
Exulting a new type of natural world which balances the ruins of human civilization with the sprouting formations of nature Itself, heart of a stone image combines within a mathematical grid the concept of a shrine to the biome. The window within the work becomes the portal between humans and a forest of assemblage like a teleporter for the viewer and the installation space itself. Combining both travel in time and physical space, Vogel relays imagery from both a cultural and cinematic shipwreck near the island named Earth while channeling literary allusions to Kim Stanley Robinson and Thomas Pynchon novels with overtones of New Age music. Crafting a forge for internal placidity within the embers of emotional tension, he becomes a postmodern Robinson Crusoe “charting autonomous modes of living within the back loop’s new unsafe operating spaces.”
Apart from farming both objects from Nature and manmade factories, Vogel also revisits the concept of Minimalism combined with queer theory and environmentalism and the all-encompassing vibes of Jason Rhoades.The mathematical and biologically classificatory grid acts as a human structure that houses pockets of chaos; the piece suggests that our inability to embrace disorder within late stage capitalism has led to strife and the semblance of transcendental order that comes at the cost of economic and cultural oppression. heart of a stone image is a sharp analysis and visual antidote of insightful optimism that counteracts a past year of worldwide unrest and a diseased planet awaiting its future of potential regrowth into newly verdant fields.
Patrick Winfield Vogel is a sculptor and performer in the ongoing science fiction story termed North America. His practice asks what comes after our current age of environmental destruction, racism, sexism, speciesism and schismatic politics. He is currently researching post-capitalism and the desire called utopia as potent responses to the troubling Anthropocene era. After receiving his BFA at Oregon Center for the Arts, he is pursuing an MFA in Art & Technology at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA.
26 S Rio Grande St #2072
Salt Lake City, UT 8410
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