charles mary kubricht
Location: Marfa, TX/United States
Activism, Architecture, Conceptual, Drawing, Installation, Mixed Media, Painting, Performance, Photography, Video
My work has been committed to landscape concepts since 1989. Six years ago I began reading military tracking manuals, David Harvey’s writings on human political geography, and Goethe’s writings on morphology. To see the landscape in new ways, I interviewed U.S. Border Patrol trackers. The meetings resulted in tracking lessons, information about human and drug corridors, and a conversation about Mount Livermore, a landmark for drug traffickers and undocumented workers backpacking through the area. I adopted the mountain, situated 50 miles from the US/Mexico border, as the focus of my artwork. While learning tracking techniques, I was forced to consider a number of factors that revised the models of figure/ground relations I was taught as an artist: the absence of clearly distinguished separations of foreground to background, the presence of subtle disturbances on the ground, and possibilities of concealment and camouflage. Gestalt Aesthetics created a bridge between the tracking experiments and the formal parameters of art. Rather than seeing a series of discrete phenomena or isolated events, I now recognize the inadequacy of separating the particular from the context. It is necessary to interrelate phenomenon (objects) and process (events or experiences) in order to track. What started as tracking lessons in order to see the landscape differently has resulted in a series of transitory art installations that stage unlikely encounters between pre-Enlightenment Cabinets of Curiosity, Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau, and dazzle paint/anti-range finding camouflage schemes of World Wars I and II. The black/white installations are built with photos, video, painting, drawing, text, and are documented by a continuing series of black/white photographs used in subsequent installations. The opportunity to explore relays between perceptual activity in the natural environment and the formal practices of art has become a tentative step toward the redefinition of landscape art.