new-york

“Natural History”

Grace Borgenicht Gallery

This is not your typical summer show of landscapes, flower studies, and breezy seaside views. It takes for its topic the representation of nature, dealing with the fact that those simple, supposedly naive scenes can never be neutrally portrayed. “Natural History” is framed against the awareness, growing in contemporary society, that our visions of nature are already appropriated by culture—that nature pertains, through a paradox, to the urban or industrial landscape, since we can only approach it through cultural representations, can only “see” or discuss it by imposing manmade conventions. By this view the age-old nature/culture opposition is inoperative; “the natural” as such does not exist, since it is always implicated in a large, inherently constructed, value system.

The title chosen by Scott Cook, who organized the show and authored its catalogue, accentuates the way in which nature

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