“Paleo Diet,” the title of Mark Hagen’s second solo exhibition at China Art Objects, plays on notions of primitivism from a very up-to-date perspective whereby only that which is most remote from the present moment holds out any promise of health. But in attempting to go back to basics, to ancient grains and bygone methods of cultivation and food preparation, we find ourselves all the more estranged from the natural world that we’ve gradually ruined. One registered the fraught relationship between our environment and ourselves immediately upon entering the gallery, thanks to the masking of the skylights with a film that split the sun’s increasingly punishing rays into spectrums of color, at once sublime and ominous, that traveled through the space over the course of the day.
Dominating the gallery’s first room was The Alhambra, 2013, a massive, canopy-like construction that occupied
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