What is a landscape? What exactly constitutes its borders and ambiguities? “Now Here: Theoretical Landscapes,” a new exhibit at The Carnegie in Covington, explores this complicated question, displaying a cornucopia of artworks by twenty-one regional artists who, through varied media, attempt to redefine the landscape genre.
It becomes immediately evident upon entering the gallery that any traditional definition of landscape has been abandoned; no pastoral panoramas of greenery or horizons dividing sea and sky appear anywhere in “Theoretical Landscapes.” Instead, we are left with a playful catalogue of re-envisioned landscapes: personal landscapes, acoustic landscapes, tactile landscapes. Anything that can be conceptualized spatially, temporally and mnemonically can be reimagined as a landscape that unfolds within the gallery, expertly curated by Matt Distel. That the proposed landscapes are so outlandish creates a cohesive tension throughout the exhibit between the real and imaginary, the past and the present. This frictional dichotomy allows for the artworks to engage not in an argument, but a dialogue with each other about what a theoretical landscape really is.
The artists in “Now Here: Theoretical Landscapes” take another look at the criteria by which we measure landscapes, remapping the genre’s parameters as most know them to include nearly anything that can be shaped not only in physical space, but in memory and sound. So, what is a landscape? After viewing this exhibit, it becomes apparent that no simple or satisfying answer to this question exists. But this, ultimately, is what makes “Now Here: Theoretical Landscapes” such a fulfilling, ambiguous experience, one that will linger in the mind long after visiting.
Zack Hatfield, “In Theory: Navigating reimagined territories in Now Here: Theoretical Landscapes at The Carnegie”, AEQAI
*Exhibition photography by Robert Joseph.