Twothirtyone Projects, New York City, NY
March 2– May 17 2017
“It’s hard to experience climate change—unless you are an Inuit, winemaker, farmer or NASA scientist” Eva Horn astutely points out in this exhibition’s catalog. It’s even harder to feel a profound and personal connection to what is taking place on our planet.
Justin Brice Guariglia’s work combines his own large-scale, highly detailed aerial landscape photographs with unique processes that incorporate painting, printmaking, and sculptural elements to create works embodying on a conceptual, physical and material level the complexity of the Anthropocene, the age in which humankind has left its indelible mark on the face of the entire planet. Just as time—human and geologic—are features of his work, so is space.
Beginning in 2015, Guariglia joined NASA flight missions over Greenland, capturing the morphing topography of rapidly changing glacial ice sheets. An enormous all-white and yet endlessly varied surface, the glacier’s scale and age embody permanence, even as Guariglia’s work painfully reveals its fragility.
Guariglia’s work challenges our ordinary experience of the environment from within, from a local and limited perspective. It insists on grasping a view of the whole, in the face of the global dimensions of the ways in which the human impact disrupts the life system of the Earth. He takes up this challenge in an unsettling, aesthetically evocative way by starting with large-scale, extraordinarily high-resolution photos, many of them taken from altitudes of 40,000 ft.
In order to forge an even deeper connection between the photograph and the physicality of what it represents, Guariglia uses an ultra-archival printing process that enables him to create an image of incredible durability, one that could potentially endure long after the glacier and all of his other subjects are gone. Guariglia uses ink-jet technology to layer acrylic. When exposed to UV radiation, it polymerizes and becomes hyper-archival. The printer becomes his paintbrush, and the process lets him radicalize and repurpose the traditional bird’s eye view, moving beyond its flatness to create almost holographic images that seem to float in three dimensions
Fixed in archival, stable materials, his images of a dying planet act as fossils of our age. In Guariglia’s works, the world’s impermanence is intensely felt. Time is measured in millions of years rather than the nanoseconds of the information age.
Justin Brice Guariglia was born in 1974 and lives and works in Brooklyn. He is a multidisciplinary artist working at the nexus of painting, printmaking, photography, and sculpture. His work explores ecology through the lens of politics, culture, science, journalism, mythology and art history.
Guariglia, the first artist embedded in a NASA science mission, will be flying with the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission on flights through 2020. OMG is studying the degree to which warm, salinated Atlantic water is melting Greenland’s glaciers in order to better estimate sea level rising. NASA is looking to Guariglia to interpret their data in a way that creates an emotional connection and inspire curiosity.
Guariglia’s work is the collections of the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX. In September, the Norton Museum of Art will mount a solo exhibition of his work that will travel to the
Fisher Museum of Art, Los Angeles, in 2018.
All images © 2017 Justin Brice Guariglia, courtesy of the artist.