The Nature of Things, A conversation with Sarah Butzer
Greetings art lovers!
2013 finds Gallery360 approaching some amazing changes, which are chock full of opportunity for the space, the artists, and for the community as a whole. As we plug along at it getting closer every day, we are proud to continue the tradition of bringing you thought-provoking exhibitions of contemporary that inspire and inform, and invite you to lend your voice!
I was so excited to begin this year’s series of new exhibits with the planning and staging of By Nature, black and white photography by Sarah Butzer. I’ve been luck enough to work with Sarah in a bronze casting studio a few years ago, and again here at Tellus360 where we began planning her exhibition, the accumulation of her years pursuing a Fine Arts degree. This exhibit brings together three different series of photographic work rooted in the ever-present concept of man made industrialization vs the natural world, which sparked some great discussion among gallery viewers!
The juxtaposition of natural forms (represented by the artist’s own body) in industrial settings leaves the viewer feeling the vulnerability of the nude figure in a seemingly alien space. I am left pondering what a difference a few layers of clothes make in the tone of the entire scene, and how necessary the stark, exposing contrast is (perhaps exemplified best in 34 Years Later).
While in 34 Years Later we find the figure isolated within a larger space, in the Building Block Series installation we are able to focus in on a closer level. Each of the smaller pieces is a macro shot of a CAD pattern drawn directly on the surface of the skin. Each of these patterns is used in Computer Aided Drafting to signify a different material to be used in building. The use of these patterns aides in increasing the productivity of the industrial design process and creates a database for manufacturing, and the juxtaposition of them drawn on the artist’s skin creates a direct meeting of a digitally patterned code with the unpredictably organic texture of skin. Consider the makeup of your own body, the mechanics of your cells and systems, and you may find that the human and the machine are not as different as we may think.
I was able to ask Sarah some questions that have been on my mind as well as some that have come up from our viewers, have a look at some highlights below!
LN: Was it important to your concept from the beginning that the figure you used in each of your photos be you?
Did you consider any that had your face visible?
GREAT question Lauren (I hear your sarcasm),it plays a very important role. I wanted the figure to look uncomfortable in these places. I wanted those images to look unnatural and vulnerable as a reflection of how I feel towards not only machinery but also towards discarded places and things.
I think one of the interesting things about your work is that at first glance it is about comparing machinery and industrial settings vs the natural, as represented by the nude human form, but upon deeper consideration of the close ups of human skin I started to think about the human form as a type of machinery. Is it the inherent similarities in the two that provides you with a sense of fear about their merging?
Yes and no. The human body is very similar to a machine and I wanted that to be a part in this series but it is the differences between the two that give me anxiety. The combination of man and machine seems so unnatural to me and that is what started this series: the comparison and contrast of the two. There is also the observation that it is extremely
natural for humans to evolve. Therein lies my complex.