SALT LAKE CITY — In late 2020, Utah made headlines as the placement of a mysterious monolith, an almost 10-foot-tall construction unlawfully positioned within the desert by nameless individuals on land managed by the Bureau of Land Administration. The act of infringing upon protected house with out permission, and the next destruction of the positioning’s ecology by the following pilgrimage of keen followers, raised questions on entry and the consumption of public lands.
In her present exhibition Excessive Visibility (Blaze Orange) on the Utah Museum of Modern Artwork, artist Jacyln Wright dissects the rugged individualism that usually disregards very important stewardship of public lands. Comprising collage-style a number of publicity pictures, immersive installations, and satirical performances that sort out a traditionally gendered energy dynamic, her work diagnoses the multi-layered contradictions on the core of the “American West.”
Blaze Orange refers back to the brilliant hue of looking vests and clay pigeons, spherical devices catapulted into the air as goal observe. For a big demographic of leisure lovers — hunters, ATV riders, and goal shooters — the colour is ubiquitous. To Wright, the colour symbolizes the incessant consumption on the core of leisure land use, which posits nature not as a fragile ecosystem important to our continued survival, however as a commodified playground. Furthermore, her work critiques the decidedly masculine implications of colonialism that pervades a lot of our historic understanding of this panorama.
Jaclyn Wright moved to Utah in 2018 after becoming a member of the school on the College of Utah. Throughout a go to to the state’s West Desert, she encountered the particles of previous consumption whereas unknowingly coming into an lively taking pictures vary. Her work envisions blaze orange as a logo of the nihilistic attitudes that underlie these behaviors.
As a photographer, Wright operates a 4×5 view digicam to create a number of exposures. Utilizing laser minimize darkish slides to masks sure components of the shot, she creates the exposures by inserting the masks into the digicam earlier than adjusting it, ultimately making 4 to 5 exposures on one sheet of movie. The result’s a palimpsest of layered views — the form of the exposures additionally corresponds to particular land plenty — that evoke the wealthy and multidimensional historical past of the area.
These works mix the artist’s personal pictures with picks from the photographic archives of the College of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library Particular Collections for which she acquired a Collections Engagement Grant in 2021.
Wright can also be fueled by a fascination with pictures’s position in perpetuating colonization. Right here, pictures is conjured as an ideological medium but in addition as an indexical file meant to delineate expectations of land use. By merging the previous and current, Wright demonstrates the methods pictures, as a beacon of modernity, has enabled our collective understanding of the land as surveyable, a commodity for the taking.
In Wright’s “Untitled” (2022), we see this historic collision at play. In a sea of intersecting exposures, mountain views function backdrop for hanging black and white images of people surveying, looking, or laboring on the land. In a single work, a determine holds up a big rock slab, as if to point out the attract of mining riches. Elsewhere, Wright’s arms, laden with blaze-orange gloves, sign and draw consideration to pictures levied inside the body. Simply as the pictures oscillate backwards and forwards between time and house, the arms and orange marks — arrows, tape, and dots — remind us of pictures’s transformative properties. Different photographic works, additionally untitled, make the most of related visible motifs of mapping and indexing, whereas in one other, shards of clay pigeons are mixed in an virtually summary grid.
These works current a compelling fusion between idea and materials course of, subverting in distinct methods the notion of pictures as purely goal, whereas undermining the stylized polish of photographers who rely solely on up to date expertise to impress this level. This conceptual relationship is at instances misplaced by the sheer complexity of Wright’s compositions.
Certainly, if land is on the core of America’s nice experiment, artwork is among the many most vital automobiles by which we might perceive the sublimity of potentialities inside it. The Western custom is replete with a grandiose and explicitly gendered vernacular concerning the land — as a pure or virginal vessel for the taking — a lyrical crystallization of manifest future.
Wright’s performances, cataloged right here as video items, disrupt this gendered historical past of land dominance by inserting the feminine physique inside the huge, untamed panorama of Western lore. Right here, two looped video performances, the single-channel “Untitled (Targets), 1” and “Untitled (Blaze Orange),” each from 2022, are displayed collectively.
Wright has experimented with efficiency for practically a decade. Donning hyper-feminized physique fits — in a single efficiency she wears a bikini high crafted out of the blaze orange clay pigeons — she attracts consideration to the absurdity of the hyper-masculine tradition that considers panorama as sport. The performances shine as farcical illustrations of America’s obsession with sport as tradition.
Wright makes use of each onsite and in-studio performative practices as an instance a stress between that which is actual and contrived. Her set up “Simulated Taking pictures Vary” (2022) employs the frilly tableau impact of her in-studio performances to focus on the discarded symbols of recreation in an immersive gallery surroundings.
By displaying the upsetting remnants of environmental leisure, Wright critiques the selfishness of capitalist consumption and tradition of recreation that has wrought destruction on lands in determined want of conservation. Whereas the spatial vastness of the Western United States permits for a kind of unbridled egoism of cowboy and pioneer lore, artists and activists are drawing consideration to problems with conservation, authorship, and the approaching hazards of dwelling in an surroundings that will quickly be inhospitable to human life. As we ponder a future that necessitates collaborative motion to unravel the local weather disaster, Wright’s work reveals the folly of rugged individualism that ignores our most urgent realities
Jacyln Wright: Excessive Visibility (Blaze Orange) continues on the Utah Museum of Modern Artwork (20 S West Temple Avenue, Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah) by June 18, 2022. The exhibition was curated by Jared Steffensen, UMOCA Curator of Exhibitions.