New Directions - With the photographic exhibition Child on a Tangent in Joshua Tree, CA, scheduled for November 2016, R. Cortez Woolery eschews the comforts and confines of the traditional gallery for the austere sprawl of the desert wilderness.
The artist’s ‘floating sites’ consist of immersive environments designed to engage visitors in complex ruminations. Three shed-like housings serve as both shelter within and transport from the formidable landscape that surround them. Clay prints, primarily circular compositions, evoke portals, moons, even wormholes -- metaphors for romantic tales, philosophical musings and telescopic views. Yet, with series titles such as embark and Palestinian walks, suggesting ‘people adrift’, we perceive more is at play than abstract meditations.
Woolery’s installation highlights many discrete points of enchantment along an axis, rather than a literal place to be fully seen and grasped. His documents of visual reality constructed from micro-observed landscapes around his Inland Valley home are juxtaposed alongside elliptical narratives, ironic wordplay, and graphic collisions of textual characters, a mash-up that opens up multiple readings.
The climate and terrain of Moreno Valley and Lake Perris offer up mythic themes -- migration, wandering, star-gazing -- terrestrial references with political implications.
Child on a Tangent is a site-specific exhibition on view by appointment in Joshua Tree, California in November 2016. The show’s narrative, while purposeful in storyline and direction, clearly prefers iteration to intent. The public is invited to explore each part of the installation on self-directed walks, making discoveries and connections as they go. Joshua Tree’s unique environment, combined with the artist’s photographs, guideposts, and other artifacts, urge a dialog between the physical and the metaphorical, between interior space and exterior location.
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