by Richard Tobin
original article here:
Meridel Rubenstein: Eden Turned On Its Side
And Cain went out… And dwelt in Nod, the land east of Eden.
David Richard Gallery
544 South Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe
Meridel Rubenstein makes inspired use of Adam and Eve as a visual conceit in Eden Turned on its Side, a large three-part photo installation about “intersections of nature and culture in relation to ecological and social imbalance” (gallery statement). Part two, Eden in Iraq, anchors part one’s earlier tree studies (Photosynthesis), from the 1990s, and the grim, gorgeous imagery of part three, The Volcano Cycle, from 2012. What unifies all three projects in Eden Turned on its Side is the artist’s concern with “ecological processes across time that either reinforce or destroy the notion of Eden” (gallery statement).
The Garden of Eden is a timeless literary theme, the archetypal “locus amoenus,” a lovely place of sensory delight—especially visual—a woodland, pasture, orchard, an enclosed park: Paradise. The actual context for the Eden in Iraq series is the Mesopotamian marshlands of southern Iraq, believed by some scholars to be the biblical site of the Garden of Eden. Eden in Iraq features two photographic prints that draw upon the Eden theme: Adam and Eve in La Cienega, USA and Adam and Eve in S. Iraq Marshes (The Al-Asadi family in the Garden of Eden). In each print, a man and woman stand on opposite sides of a tree in the center, forming three vertical bands against a broad horizontal backdrop—a northern New Mexican orchard in the first print, a marsh in the Iraqi image. Both prints deploy the Adam and Eve motif from European (especially Northern Renaissance) art depicting the biblical pair flanking the Tree of Knowledge (see van Eycks, Dürer). The composite motif of Adam, Eve, and Tree is a visual metonymy for the Genesis account of mankind’s precipitous fall from grace and expulsion from Paradise. In a kind of shorthand of the Eden narrative, this iconic motif was often reduced to just Adam and Eve, as seen, for example, on opposite end panels of triptych altarpieces that, when closed, joined the pair in a diptych.
Please join me for the second presentation in a multi-part series of exhibits that focuses on intersections of nature and culture in relationship to ecological and social imbalance. The show continues through June 21, 2015. Deepest thanks to all of you who came to the opening!
David Richard Gallery
544 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501
This is the second presentation in a multi-part series of exhibits that focuses on intersections of nature and culture in relationship to ecological and social imbalance.
In this ArtBeat podcast that aired live on Thursday, May 28th, photographers Gay Block and Meridel Rubenstein talk with Kathryn Davis about their exhibitions at, respectively, the New Mexico Museum of Art and David Richard Gallery.