• Walking on Water

    Date posted: January 2, 2009 Author: jolanta
    I like to think of my recent work as a Frankenstein-like stepchild of the Hudson River School. Thomas Cole and his companions used to hike the Catskills with sketchbook in hand returning home to assemble landscapes of the sublime. I lug a backpack full of expensive technology to capture fragments of nature, and then sit behind a computer screen to seam the scraps together into large, threatening behemoths. Sure, my Frankensteins bear only the faintest family resemblance to their splendent pictures. Image

    Michael Krondl

    Image
    Michael Krondl, Waterwalk/ Po hladinÄ›, 2003. Digital print on vinyl, 33 x 39 feet. Courtesy of the artist.

     I like to think of my recent work as a Frankenstein-like stepchild of the Hudson River School. Thomas Cole and his companions used to hike the Catskills with sketchbook in hand returning home to assemble landscapes of the sublime. I lug a backpack full of expensive technology to capture fragments of nature, and then sit behind a computer screen to seam the scraps together into large, threatening behemoths. Sure, my Frankensteins bear only the faintest family resemblance to their splendent pictures. But the relationship is there.

    Water has been a handy metaphor. Conveniently it represents both life and destruction, both surfing and tsunamis. When I was installing Wave in the outdoor exhibition space at Black & White Gallery in the late summer of 1995, I kept humming the theme from Hawaii 5-0. Two weeks later, New Orleans was inundated.

    Water is also a useful shorthand for a whole range of climatic disasters that we probably need to get used to. When I made Waterwalk/ Po hladinÄ› (2003) in Prague, there was no metaphor involved. There my intent was an all-too-literal rendering of what had occurred when a year earlier, the neighborhood had been drowned by the rising river. I’d been asked to do a memorial for that event, and my perhaps unsubtle answer was to recreate it. Still, now people got to walk on a big print water rather than running for their lives, and it was lovely when the light seeped in from the windows of the 150-year-old synagogue. And it was all very safe—at least for the moment.

    All that said, I am perhaps less interested in discussions of ecological disaster. The monster is too unsubtle for that. It wants to rattle your midbrain before the more advanced cognitive faculties have a chance. The policy analysis can come later.

     

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