Without, A View
Sara Constantino and Yelena Zhelezov
July 14- August 17, 2019
Opening reception: Sunday, July 14, 7-10pm
Gallery Hours: Saturdays 1-5, and by appointment
“Panoramic massive ocean views await you at this custom Tuscan Villa built in 2008. Sitting on 2.5 Acres, this 4,198 SF estate exhumes [sic] luxury living from the inside and throughout. Stunning coastline, Queen's Necklace, and Catalina Island views are surrounded by rock formation, nature, in this tranquil hilltop retreat. Interior of the main house has a contemporary feel and ocean views from almost every room. Master bed has large cedar closet, voluminous vaulted ceilings, and private balcony featuring the most incredible vantage point.”
Real Estate copy, Anonymous
Actual Size is pleased to present Without, A View, an interdisciplinary collaboration between artist Yelena Zhelezov and researcher Sara Constantino. Approaching the exhibition as an experiment, Constantino and Zhelezov investigate the anthropocentric gaze and the possibilities that emerge through a hybridization of art and academic research.Through a series of sculptures, as well as video and audio gestures, they examine how the human-centered view has been used to systematically measure, organize, rate, value and transform the appearance of “natural” landscapes for human consumption and possession.
In the quoted real estate copy, the massive wild blue body of the ocean -- a complex ecosystem containing multitudes of animals and habitats -- is flattened into an inert panoramic image awaiting a fortunate viewer. The writer goes on to describe how the estate “exhumes luxury living from the inside and throughout.” This typo or autocorrect reveals a human or digital subconscious. “Exhume” is a geological term meaning “to expose a land surface that was buried” but more commonly it refers to the unearthing of a corpse. Here, luxury living is extracted: from the outside-in, the corpse of domestic comfort is reanimated by contemporary vaulted ceilings and ensconced in ocean vistas.
The works on view express the ideas and values latent in an extensive collection of texts related to home ownership and the view as a value proposition. The sources referenced range from real estate copy, to property law, academic papers on environmental psychology, landscape esthetics and forestry, classic works of American Romanticism, and Scenic Beauty Estimation manuals. In the exhibit audio citations from these texts describe unseen views, videos of 3D renderings from real estate websites invite visitors to journey through unbuilt homes looking out on fabricated natural scenes, vacuum sealed plastic bags asphyxiate natural and man-made detritus, plexiglass pedestals support ceramic indices of domestic space and their empty window frames, and translucent curtains of real estate copy obscure the literal views from the gallery, darkening the room and conjuring spectacular new vistas.
Enjoy the view!
Sara Constantino is an interdisciplinary researcher who works in and out of academia. Her primary appointment is at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Her past research straddles ecology, economics, and psychology and looks at how individuals navigate complex foraging environments with long temporal horizons. More recently, Sara has focused on two parallel lines of research. One looks at how labor or work has been traditionally conceptualized, evaluated, and remunerated and how this relates to current calls for universal basic income. The other considers individuals as actors embedded in a complex socio-ecological context. She examines how individuals organize and collectivize to manage common natural resources and how we can mobilize cooperative norms towards climate change action.
Yelena Zhelezov’s practice revolves around the recurring themes of scarcity and abundance, with a focus on the way that mass-produced narratives like fictional film and advertising shape public views and opinions. She frequently uses found and biodegradable objects to reflect and contradict the hyper-consumerism of our age, and works in sculpture, moving image and sound. By employing simple, legible materials like clay and paper-mache, she aims to give form and texture to the unformed – creating playful material inversions of fleeting aspects of internet culture. Yelena has presented work at the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, Navel, the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, the Wende Museum, Materials and Applications, the Fowler Museum, Ural Biennale (RU), Wro Biennale (PL), Rainbow in Spanish, and Gas Gallery; she is a co-host of Centered Subject, a weekly podcast of commentary on culture, tech and human behavior. This is her second exhibition at Actual Size.
Open Saturday 1:00- 5:00 and by appointment
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