Unveiling the process behind artist Blane De St. Croix’s upcoming exhibition, Horizon
PARTNER CONTENT: In the Year of Sustainability, climate change has become part of the common lexicon.
However, The NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Art Gallery’s fall exhibition will have you re-examine your relationship with the world as you see it.
Curated by Maya Allison, Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery, Horizon by Blane De St. Croix is here to open the doors to much-needed discourse. Through striking sculptures, Blane takes you through his response to the UAE’s landscape.
Having spent the last year studying the UAE’s natural environment, the exhibition comes at a critical point in the lead-up to COP28, forging a collaborative movement, with the arts taking a prominent seat at the table.
The pieces on display are informed by the artist’s own explorations, of course, but also through working closely with faculty and interviewing resident scientists and scholars.
For both Blane and Maya, the title acts as a metaphor, the latter saying, “In the same way that the word horizon is both a metaphorical and physical thing, it is about looking at a point in the distance, beyond which we cannot see what happens.”
“Many of the sculptures actually do confront the horizon of the landscapes, both in terms of the physical expanse and in what is happening in climate change in these spots.”
Playing with scale, Blane’s exhibits range from massive life-size installations to the tiniest model train. The one poised to leave viewers pondering is arguably the Salt Lake Excerpt.
Developed in collaboration with NYUAD Arts Professor of Theater Joanna Settle, the 150-square-metre sculptural installation gently moves with light and sound.
“The sculpture sparkles and comes alive, but most people won’t realise what it’s made from, which is nearly 50,000 plastic bottles from the UAE. You also realise the complexity of the problem, like how you put it [the bottles] out and recycle them; I’m trying to make that part of the conversation,” says Blane.
The process is thoroughly methodical, from the deliberate placing of the model train exhibit first to elicit curiosity, to the use of materials itself.
“The materials used are pulled either directly from the physical landscape itself, like the sand from the Gobi Desert for example, or materials that look like landscape. Like PET, for instance, Blane works a lot with PET. So you could say the use of materials is a landscape in itself,” says Maya.
Backing the art is an undeniable passion exuding from both Blane and Maya, evident in the year-long journey. And all the hard work seems to have paid off, culminating in an exhibition bound to leave a lasting impact.
On one such piece, Blane elaborates, “I created these Infinity Boxes, which means the viewer looks through a 2D mirror and the landscape is at the beginning. So what seems flat or a short 14 inches at first, turns into a million-acre desert scene. It becomes this grandiose landscape that creates a magical experience for the viewer.”
While the work itself is admirable, it is Blane’s ability to collate research from experts at NYUAD and translate it into art that becomes more palatable and accessible to the public.
“I think it’s important with my work at least to create that dialogue,” he adds.
“I’m not pre-dictating what you see or where you go with that conversation, I just want to make you cross the threshold and open the door for anybody to enter that conversation.”
In sync for the most part, the only disagreement between the dream duo remains on whether sculpture is the best vehicle for the story of climate change. While Maya sees all art forms as part of the conversation, Blane is adamant about the visual and three-dimensional pull for the viewer. Then again, that is a conversation best left for your visit.
The NYUAD Art Gallery
For more information, visit NYUAD Art Gallery
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