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Kate Casanova “Ornament”
March 19th – June 16th 2014
Ornament is a solo exhibition by visual artist Kate Casanova in which traditional ideas of landscape are subverted; Nature becomes the subject and the human world becomes the landscape. Live hermit crabs traverse the ornately braided head of the artist in a video performance titled, Ornament. Casanova’s arresting videos, sculptures, collages and photographs create unnerving, poetic imagery that embraces and challenges the human desire to romanticize nature.
Kate Casanova is an interdisciplinary visual artist who lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She received her MFA from the University of Minnesota in 2013. Her work examines what it means to be a human animal in a non-human world. Her exhibition record includes the Beijing New Media Triennial, the Gallery at (le) Poisson Rouge in New York, and the Kolman & Pryor Gallery in Minneapolis. For more info visit KateCasanova.com.
Kate Casanova creates visceral worlds in which sensation trumps language; where unconscious yearning seethes beneath skin and under tongues. In these surreal landscapes, fungi grow out of furniture, crustaceans crawl on heads, land masses float in spacelessness. Hair, crystals, lava, fur, and ice become textures that fold into themselves, expand and contract in an ever shifting state of becoming. Insects swarm, vines overtake, and eggs burst. Fueled by a mythos of visual and material seduction, these world offers up an alluring entropy that pulses with the crushing proliferation of life.
Casanova’s poetic work examines human perceptions of the natural world. She blends conceptual and process-based methodologies freely, equally inspired by ideas and material. Her interdisciplinary practice oscillates between sculpture, video, performance, and collage – a result of both intuition and experimentation.
Conceptually, Casanova is influenced by a range of theoretical concerns, from Posthumanism and Phenomenology to cultural theories of kitsch, affect, space, the body, and rhizomes. For example, the Mushroom Chair series explores Posthumanism, a philosophy which repositions humans as merely one species among many. In these works, upholstered chairs are overtaken by living oyster mushrooms that sprout from the cushions. The fungi feed off an artifact from human culture invoking the ephemeral nature of living beings.
Informed by Phenomenology, a field of philosophy that posits that it is through our bodies that we come to know ourselves and our surroundings, the video performance titled, Ornament, features three hermit crabs traversing the artist’s ornately braided head. While the figure remains reverently still, the crabs investigate this foreign terrain. Each species senses the other in a direct, corporeal way. In a role reversal for our species, the human body becomes the landscape and the crabs, the subjects.
Casanova’s work both reveals and confronts human perceptions of nature. By exploring human responses to natural phenomenon such as attraction and repulsion, awe and unease, she allows us to question how we assign value to the more-than-human world.