new-york

View of “Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison,” 2011.

Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison

Ronald Feldman Gallery

View of “Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison,” 2011.

For figures from John Muir to Ansel Adams and beyond, the Sierra Nevada has long been a locus classicus of the American wilderness sublime. Traditionally represented as a sacred zone of untouched nature standing outside of human history, the transcendentalist landscape imaginary of the Sierra in fact developed in tandem with a range of biopolitical technologies concerning the government of populations, territories, and resources. Ranging from the imperial survey photography of Timothy O’Sullivan to Adams’s own work for the Department of the Interior, this ambivalent history shadows “Sierra Nevada: An Adaptation,” the recent exhibition by Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

Since the early 1970s, the work of the Harrisons has involved a similar antinomy between a quasi-Romantic poetics of the earth, on one hand, and the notion of the artist as

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