Brave New World
Brave New World brings together three artists, linked through their social consciousness, who spark conversations on mass migration. As a Nationalist wave spreads around the globe, we must question how we came to this juncture, and what a future will look like if society continues down this path.
Richard Mosse’s series The Castle, which was first shown at the gallery in 2017, charts the refugee crisis permeating across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Using a military-grade surveillance camera intended for border and combat surveillance, Mosse records these often-ignored landscapes of human displacement. By capturing only thermal radiation from over 30 kilometers away, these removed depictions mirror the dehumanizing narratives that all too often pervade press coverage of such sights. Through deeper observation we find details that push beyond this degree of separation. Souda Camp, Chios Island, Greece, which depicts adolescents swimming in the Aegean Sea, reminds us that the individuals living in these squalid conditions contain a far more complex humanity than a simple heat signature.
While Mosse focuses on the reality of the present, Till Freiwald’s large scale soft pastel drawings mine the past to better understand the systems that lead to designating our neighbors as others. Pauppenbauer, a meticulously rendered drawing of children making dolls, utilizes a source image from an old family album taken during the artist’s childhood in 1960’s Peru. Drawn to the image due to the palpable rigidity of the environment, Freiwald calls into question the long-term effects of an upbringing of this nature. Paired with Stadt 3, which portrays a Brazilian Favela in the 1970’s, Freiwald comments on the link between historically upheld institutions and the reality of another nation threatened by exclusionary immigration policies, widespread police violence in less privileged neighborhoods, and the erosion of environmental protections.
As protectionist instincts spread across the globe, Vibha Galhotra’s work, which addresses the impact of globalization on topography and the environment, calls into question what limited natural resources will challenge the current trend to preserve borders moving forward. Based in New Delhi, Galhotra’s practice has long been influenced by the sacred Yamuna River, which flows through the city and supports life in the region. As the Yamuna is now one of the most contaminated rivers in the world, Galhotra was particularly struck by a NASA research project begun in 2005 in hopes of finding viable sources of water on Mars. Comprised entirely of ghungroos, small metal bells worn on women’s bodies in traditional Indian dance, Galhotra reconstructs photographs pulled from this research. While this futuristic inquiry may yield results, it does cause one to question why more energy is not focused on preserving the resources we have.
By bringing together these three artists and their multiplicity of styles and media, Brave New World asks us to contemplate the relevance of our current moment. Although it is fraught with anxiety for our future, the inherent divisiveness has activated a surge of engagement, and a desire for individuals to weigh in on the conversations shaping our future.