Vista presents an installation of works that literally and figuratively rewire our beliefs and fantasies of the landscape, asking us to reconcile (in good fun) the collisions between images and objects designed to comfort us and new uncertainties about our domination and control over nature.
Marked by her uncanny sense of irony and humor, Allison Wiese’s paintings are literal appropriations of reproductions—themselves culled from millions of reproductions marketed by mid-twentieth century “landscape” painter Robert Wood—more often found on motel and living room walls, thrift-store shelves, and garage sales around the world. (Wood’s dealer claims to have found one gracing a chieftain’s hut during an African safari.) In a suite of works titled Woods, a collection of the artist’s mass-produced prints are retrofitted by Wiese with blinking LED lights and battery packs. The blinking lights take these populist prints the final step towards low-brow. Now animated, they join the ranks of the ever-flowing waterfalls of bar-room beer signs, while at the same time introducing a troubling reference to human activity and technology more complex than the occasional campfires and cottages that Wood included in his views.
Insofar as they masquerade as “paintings” and “sculptures”—acting as souvenirs of North America’s real vanishing pastoral and sublime landscapes, mementos from a road trip through the complicated and funny set of ideas that humans have about our place in nature—the work in Vista sheds light on the fundamental ideology of human-nature relations that marks our current global-ecological struggles and transformation. As one historian recently noted, the ideology of domination over nature is still with us today; indeed it has submerged to deeper layers of consciousness. Rooted in our everyday beliefs, actions, and hopes, it lies at the center of any attempt to transform the world into a safer, friendlier, and more loveable place.
Allison Wiese is an interdisciplinary artist working in sculpture, installation, sound, and architectural interventions. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, including Machine Project in Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Socrates Sculpture Park in New York, Artpace in Austin, and the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art, among others. She was the recipient of a 2007 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and the 2007-2008 San Diego Art Prize (selected by Marcos Ramirez ERRE), and has also been awarded grants from Art Matters and the Cultural Arts Council of Houston. Wiese is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony, an alumna of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and—from 2001 to 2003—a Core Fellow of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Allison Wiese received her MFA from the University of California San Diego in 2000.