Several Art21 artists temporarily engage in a moment of symbiosis in the New Museum’s new group exhibition, After Nature, curated by Massimiliano Gioni with the assistance of Jarrett Gregory and Chris Wiley. The work of the Puerto Rico-based collaborative team Allora & Calzadilla (Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla) (Season 4) often explores hybrid relationships and global politics. Their installation, Growth (Survival), 2006, presented in After Nature, pairs an existing work by Jenny Holzer (Season 4), Yellow Corner, 2002 with a Staghorn Fern (a plant native to such places as Southeast Asia and Australia, among other tropical locales). The work actually exists in two forms using the aforementioned work or with Holzer’s Blue Wall Tilt, 2004. The installation at the New Museum is placed in a darkly lit corner so the plant is exposed to virtually no other light besides the somber glow of the yellow LED screens of Holzer’s sculpture.
In his catalogue essay, Gioni describes the exhibition as “a land of wilderness and ruins that exists in an imaginary time zone suspended between a remote past and a not-so-distant future.” It’s impossible to hear this statement without recalling Rod Sterling’s hauntingly apocalyptic introduction to the 1960s television show The Twilight Zone: “There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” Gioni’s curatorial premise, not to mention Allora & Calzadilla’s installation, seems to take this notion to heart, reminding humankind that new systems of sustainability are inevitable on a planet that has been irrevocably altered by the careless endeavors of its inhabitants and also suggests that earth’s only hope for survival may be found within the unpredictable landscape of the mind.