You no longer have to be a scientist to understand the catastrophic impact of pollution and its friend global warming. In California, we’re facing the greatest drought in recorded history; marine animals are choking on our collective waste amid mass plastic contamination in the ocean; in China last year, 16,000 pig carcasses were spotted floating down Huangpu River. Chinese-born, New York-based artist Cai GuoQiang reacts to global environmental catastrophes with his monumental exhibition, “The Ninth Wave,” currently on view at Power Station of Art, China’s first publicly-funded contemporary art museum in Shanghai. An interdisciplinary show filled with large-scale installations, ceramic works, drawings and even performance, “The Ninth Wave” examines the harrowing after-effects of rampant industrialization with finesse.
A veritable escape from reality, Mandy Greer’s current exhibition, “The Ecstatic Moment” at the Hudson River Museum, immerses the viewer in all of Greer’s diverse artistic practices at once. Constructing a new world through her large-scale crochet installations, Greer uses yarn to link together elaborate costume works, fantastical photography, experimental films, sculptures and collections of objects (both natural and manmade) that she gathered herself or appropriated from the museum’s permanent collection.
Toronto-based artist Christine Kim creates intricate collage pieces that explore the idea of boundaries — both in her choice of materials and narratives. She looks to investigate the idea of displacement and how it borderlines transient and permanent conditions. She specializes in illustration, installations and sculpture.
John Grade is a Seattle-based artist who creates monumental installations that significantly alter the viewers’ experience of architecture and nature. Gritty, industrial materials are Grade’s trademark. He likes his work to have weight in an almost precarious sort of way, as if the piece might give and crush the viewer at any second. Inspired by the land art movement of the ’60s and ’70s, Grade’s work echoes the scale and impact of famous Earthworks like Spiral Jetty, though most of his interventions take place inside of museum and gallery environments rather than the land itself.
Design collective Numen/For Use was incepted in 1998 as a way for its members — industrial designers Sven Jonke, Christoph Katzler and Nikola Radeljković — to push the boundaries of architecture, design and conceptual art. They’ve collaborated on everything from furniture design to elaborate installations that invite the viewers to break the norms of how they ordinarily interact with space. Rarely do we see adults take off their shoes to bounce and play, but Numen invites their audiences to do just that. Their latest piece, String in Vienna is an inflatable, bounce house-like structure with an elaborate grid of cords that allow viewers (more aptly, participants) to defy gravity. Their other recent works include a levitating cave made out of clear tape in Tokyo and another inflatable structure with hammock-like netting hung strategically for optimal bouncing in Yokohama, Japan.
Sarah A. Smith has a particular set of drawings that merit notice for their expressive qualities. Her subject is the natural world. The compositions are dynamic and fluid, coiled in mid-strike. If you didn’t know they were drawings, you might think they were dioramas. Subject matter includes eagles and wolves, trees and shrubs. Sometimes there’s a drawing of an eagle, sometimes there’s one of a wolf. Sometimes the two are locked in combat though, as in Eagle Vs. Wolf, you can only see the wolf responding to the eagle overhead. The work is dynamic. The shapes are sharp and angular. They look like lightning bolts. If you could rub the head of the eagle or the wolf, you’d feel its coarse texture. Likewise with the bark of the trees: rub it and you’d get splinters. The scenes offer voyeuristic views of the natural world in its rawest element. It’s a perilous, zero sum world. Its narrow color palette suggests bleakness.