Genius Loci, 2007-2014
Atlanta Botanical Gardens suite 1-3, lambda archival prints, 30” x 42”
Bridge at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco 20” x 40”
Genius Loci, the genius of the place or disorder of the picturesque is the umbrella for a large body of work stemming from my interest in the Utopian “futuristic” Glasshouses and Conservatories dotted throughout North America and Europe of the 19th and 20th century. These structures blend together “old and new nature… palms, pumps and pistons” and are lodged in our collective imaginations as possible envelopes for Eden. For me they are Barthesian sites of loss and desire.
I was initially drawn to these, cathedral like structures by the architectural features, the spaces and volumes, transparency and reflection and the inscription of the condensation on the glass. Soon, however I found myself distracted and seduced by the somatic experiences of the light, the heat and the earthy smells. The magical gardens, the Utopian Eden’s inverting the inside and outside had triggered in me memories and an unsettling desire to be a part of this contained formal order. Once cognisant of my reaction I began to query the roll of these museums in our imaginations as utopian sites where the “idea” of nature exists, where the architecture functions as authority and monument. For within these built environments, nature undergoes a series of sequential shifts- a process of displacement, diminution and transplantation. It conjures up notions of loss and a revision of our collective memory of what is nature, and what will be nature? Are they theatres of loss or theatres of desire? Must there be an oscillation between the melancholy longing and the analeptic hope? Or is there another more porous, blurred, de-focused understanding that encompasses a boundless amelioration?