Rebeca Méndez

Homeland # 2, Series, 2006. (2007)

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Homeland # 2, 2006. Installation view, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center.

Second Natures

Excerpt by Christiane Paul, curator of new media arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, and curator of Second Natures at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center, where Homeland 2 was shown in 2009.

“Every aspect of our environment has been profoundly affected by centuries of civilization and our use (or exploitation) of natural resources. Nature has become “processed’ or even designed.

Méndez, in her Homeland 2 series, explores this sense of ambivalence—while her panoramic images allude to the sublime in nature, they simultaneously reveal their synthetic process of construction.

Méndez composed 24 panoramas she refers to “…ever sustaining landscapes. All products and nourishment have as their origin the extraction or harvest of the raw materials provided by the earth.” Méndez’s intent is to give the viewer a glimpse of these raw materials in their integrity and beauty and to expose the distribution and processing of these goods before they are conveniently packaged for consumption.

Formally, the horizon lines of the landscapes have become thresholds to imagining new, non-existent landscapes where glaciers float over puffy clouds and Nordic cows graze on top of tropical waters. Using her own documentary photography from far-flung places such as Patagonia and the Sahara desert, Méndez’s landscapes tease the viewer to see beyond the horizon, which she views as “the perpetual aim of humanity.” Placed in each landscape is a short line of text—a sensation, a glimpse of a memory, or a moment of an experience triggered by the landscape. The short texts include references to sustainability— “till the last tree” over an image of cows grassing—pointing back to Méndez’s interpretation of the core theme of “ever sustaining landscapes” that are being farmed, drilled, eroded and melted, for our “convenience.”

Each of the six murals has an overall dominating color—red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and white. The first five of these colors correspond to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Alert Threat Levels, red indicating “severe” and green signifying “low.” Méndez realized that “peace” and its corresponding color, white, were missing from the chart, and created an additional panel. The six panels give an impression of the power and beauty of the landscape and questions the cost of convenience.”

The processing of nature unfolds both on the level of mediation—in a photographic, panoramic landscape—and the actual harvesting of resources. This mediated nature is embedded into meticulously constructed sculptural objects, whose material—3/16 inch thick sheets of anodized aluminum—revealing their mechanical and industrial processes."

Exhibition History:

2006: Second Natures, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center, Los Angeles.
2007: HAAZ Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey.

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