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Valeska Soares: Follies

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Detour by  Valeska        Soares

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Puro Teatro by  Valeska        Soares

Vanishing Point by  Valeska        Soares

Vanishing Point by  Valeska        Soares
Bronx Museum,
Oct 30, 2003 - Mar 14, 2004
Bronx, NY, USA

Valeska Soares
by Kelly Linder

In contrast, it is the literal absence of the natural world in "Vanishing Point" (1998) and "Untitled (from Vanishing Point)" (1998) that revitalizes the nature/culture debate. "Vanishing Point" combines a minimalist aesthetic with the structure of a formal European garden--fifteen stainless steel tanks filled with a fragrant amber liquid are arranged systematically into a maze-like pattern. A potent aroma emerges from the tanks. While initially pleasing, the smell becomes overwhelming the more time one spends in proximity to the piece. Again, Soares treads the line between desire and control. The perfumed odor is at once intoxicating and suffocating. Sensory stimulation is vital to our experience of nature and by isolating one aspect of that experience and amplifying its presence, Soares reminds us that the well-manicured garden often thought of as an example of beauty, remains only on the surface "under control."

Approaching the garden from a more personal perspective, "Untitled (from Vanishing Point)" is comprised of 123 flowerpots and saucers cast in beeswax, porcelain, and aluminum from the artist’s former backyard garden in Brooklyn. The vessels are positioned as they had been previously arranged in their original location. Forming an indexical relationship with the original garden, the cast garden is a mere shadow of its source. In effect, the cast flowerpots are not only empty they are also emptied of meaning. Through the casting process, the containers are transposed from functional objects used to grow plants into sculptural art objects placed in the context of the museum. Meaning is generated through a different paradigm: art versus gardening or more a more general theme in Soares’s work, culture versus nature.

Allen S. Weiss writes that a garden is a "web of symbols" to be read much like a book, each metaphor revealing new meaning. With a similar philosophy, Soares weaves materiality and references into sculptural metaphors using the motif of the garden as a reflection of nature to reanimate the wonder of the natural world. Soares has titled the exhibition Follies, referring to illusions incorporated into a garden’s design. Garden follies, by definition however, are not meant to blend in completely with the natural beauty, but rather call attention to the artifice that is the garden itself. In the space of this duality, Soares builds her metaphors, revealing fictions and realities even as she creates new ones.

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