Tesserae of Venus

October 23-December 5, 2009


Silverman Gallery is pleased to present Tesserae of Venus, a new body of work by Christina McPhee, on view from October 23 – December 5, 2009.

Tesserae of Venus imagines a strange future through dynamic photomontages of energy-producing landscapes and related drawings.

McPhee borrows from the tectonics of Venus-tesserae, or ‘complex ridged folds,’ in order to structure her images of imagined future sites and present a spatial and political critique of our toxic, increasingly-carbon saturated environment. The photomontages are sourced on location in remote parts of California where biological systems clash with technological landscapes, such as natural gas installations in the Sacramento River Delta, geothermal plants in the Salton Sea, and the San Ardo oil fields in the Salinas River Valley. Rendered through her fractured images these sites become haunting, science-fictive visions of a possible future.

As both futuristic fantasy and documentary reality, Tesserae of Venus proposes a disturbing and radical observation of contemporary and future landscapes in the transition from petroleum to alternative energy production. At the same time, McPhee’s works constitute compelling studies of the mechanics of abstraction in the age of computer technology.

Christina McPhee’s artistic practice is centered in and around landscapes where human and natural assemblages meet and clash. McPhee works across a number of media, including time-based media, site-specific sound, networked media, drawing, painting, photomontage, and performance. A native of Los Angeles, she lives and works in California’s central coast. After arts and literature studies at Scripps College Claremont, she studied painting at Kansas City Art Institute (BFA) and Boston University School for the Arts (MFA). Ongoing projects include “The Pharmakon Library,” a series of graphic folios and “Carrizo Diaries,” an exploration of earthquake terrains as seismic memory and “Flaming Debt,” performance collages about debt. Her films have screened nationally and internationally and are currently being showed at Cinema by the Bay (San Francisco Film Society) and VIBA Buenos Aires. Solo exhibitions include Carrizo-Parkfield Diaries at American Unversity Museum, Washington DC, Cartes Center Espoo (FI) and Bildmuseet (SE). Her most recent film commission is “La Conchita mon amour” for Thresholds Artspace, Horsecross, Perth (SCT) and is a featured artists studio on Turbulence.org. She was a participating editor and artist in Documenta 12 Magazine Project (2007). Museum collections of her prints, paintings and drawings include Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Taylor Museum/Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Her new media and video work has been commissioned for Thresholds, Scotland and Turbulence.org (NY) and is in the collections of the Experimental Television Center (NY); Rhizome Artbase at the New Museum, Whitney Museum Artport, and the Rose Goldsen Collection of New Media Art at Cornell University, New York.