Fine Art Photography Daily

Allison Grant

Looking at Review Santa Fe participants from 2010…

Allison Grant recently received her MFA from Columbia College in Chicago, and hasn’t wasted any time creating several interesting bodies of work. The project she brought to Santa Fe was Unsoiled.

In the Unsoiled series, I construct and photograph scenes of nature that at first appear idyllic and serene, but reveal their artifice upon closer inspection. I am inspired by representations of nature that I see in image culture and I often use advertisements, films, the Internet and other cultural sources as the starting point for my constructions. Using disposable plastics – which are synthetic down to a molecular level – I imitate these visual sources, simplifying and reducing their form. Appropriated images, houseplants, yard waste and other found materials are also integrated into my arrangements to further confuse space and scale. These relics from daily life recall the ways in which we try to control nature, or imagine it to be.

Beneath surfaces of illusion, my photographs suggest the presence of deeply conflicted fictions within our notions of wilderness and natural beauty, and within the photographic medium itself. I am interested in the ways artificial representations of nature, particularly those found in photography, can offer a sense of connection with the natural world while simultaneously muddling the true characteristics of natural systems.

Though I have chosen to address nature using a particular set of cultural conventions, I think of my photographs as metaphors for a broader contemporary experience of the natural word. This experience is immeasurably complex and intermingled with human affairs, but is routinely simplified and romanticized in our day-to-day lives. At a moment when it appears that our human-made objects and waste products may outlast nature as we know it, my work focuses on tensions between fact and facsimile, nature and artificiality, and permanence and disposability that can be applied to ongoing questions about the shifting role of humanity in the balance of nature.

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