NEW YORK—Between the Waters brings together artists from across the United States whose work responds to the precarious state of the environment through a personal lens. The show opened at the Whitney on March 9.
The featured artists are Carolina Caycedo, Demian DinéYazhi´ (with Ginger Dunnill), Torkwase Dyson, Cy Gavin, Lena Henke, and Erin Jane Nelson. Experimenting with form and narrative in painting, video, and sculpture, these artists address how ideology—as much as technology, industry, and architecture—impacts all living things.
Though each contends with facts or histories that are real and observable, none takes a documentary approach. Rather, these artists adopt a highly subjective position, embracing emotion, intuition, personal belief, spirituality, and myth to help comprehend our intrinsic place within the “natural” world.
The works on view address a wide range of subjects. Carolina Caycedo’s talismanic assemblages respond to environmental and economic damage from the construction of hydroelectric dams along Colombia’s Magdalena (Yuma) River. Cy Gavin’s otherworldly paintings use real sites and geological features of Bermuda to point to themes of burial and erasure while making space for hope and renewal. In The Future of Tucker’s Point, the artist imagines a future in which vegetation reclaims the luxury resorts built upon slave cemeteries and on the property of emancipated Black communities. Lena Henke’s sculptures explore the transformative and destructive effect that city planner Robert Moses had on New York.
Demian DinéYazhi´ (with Ginger Dunnill), Torkwase Dyson, and Erin Jane Nelson are each creating new work for Between the Waters, in sculpture, video, and painting. DinéYazhi´ has invited a collaborator, Ginger Dunhill, to work together on a new video which proposes poetic instructions for “burying” white supremacy. He will also present a 2013 video that layers text and narration over footage of his grandparents’ land north of Chʼínílį́–Diné Bikéyah (Navajo Nation). In her Water Table series, Dyson transforms representations of underground water systems into abstractions of the earth’s interconnected layers, alluding to both Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. Nelson’s ceramic works memorialize barrier islands off the South Atlantic and Gulf coasts that will likely disappear with rising sea levels. Between the Waters will also include Nelson’s 2016 sculptures, in which she collages webcam screenshots of octopus tentacles in order to connect the digital and so-called natural worlds.
Through their varied interests and formal approaches, all of the artists in Between the Waters assert the relevance of individual experience and perspective to concerns that are global in scale and effect. Between the Waters is on view in the first floor John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gallery, which is accessible to the public free-of-charge.
Carolina Caycedo (b. 1978, London; lives and works in Los Angeles) has exhibited at Vienna Secession, Austria; Intermediae-Matadero, Madrid, Spain; Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia; Hordaland Kunstsenter, Bergen, Norway; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles; Le Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; NuMu Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Jorge B. Vargas Museum, Manila, Philippines; Nuit Blanche Toronto; ExTeresa Arte Actual, Mexico City, Mexico; DAAD Gallery, Berlin, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, among others. She has participated in several international biennials, most recently Sao Paulo (2016), Berlin (2014), Paris Triennial (2013), and New Museum Triennial (2011).
Demian DinéYazhi´ (b. 1983, Gallup, New Mexico; lives and works in Portland, Oregon) has recently exhibited at Artists Space (2018); The Maryland Institute College of Art (2018); CANADA, New York (2017); Portland Art Museum, Oregon (2016); and DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, Illinois (2016). He is the founder of the artist/activist initiative, R.I.S.E.: Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment. DinéYazhi´ also serves as co-editor of the zine Locusts: A Post-Queer Nation Zine.
Ginger Dunnill (b. 1980, Hana, Maui, Hawaii; lives and works in Glorieta, New Mexico) works in community organizing, audio composition, sound installation, and performance-based art. Her project, Broken Boxes Podcast highlights monthly interviews centering Indigenous artists, activist focused artists, Queer artists, women identifying artists, artists of color, and mixed/lost/stolen heritage artists. Dunnill is a founding member of Winter Count, a collective of artists cultivating awareness, respect, honor and protection for land and water. She is alsoa co-organizer of Indigenous Goddess Gang, an online platform providing recognition and space for reclaiming knowledge from an Indigenous femme lens.
Torkwase Dyson (b. 1973, Chicago, Illinois; lives and works in New York) has recently been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, and has been included in numerous gallery exhibitions including at We Buy Gold, New York (2017), Martos Gallery, New York (2017) and Eyebeam, New York (2016). She was a 2016 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors award. Her work previously appeared at the Whitney in “Monastic Residency,” a program in collaboration with Theaster Gates on the occasion of the 2010 Whitney Biennial. In February and March of 2018 she has a solo project at The Drawing Center, New York.
Cy Gavin (b. 1985, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; lives and works in New York) has had solo exhibitions at VNH Gallery, Paris (2018), Sargent’s Daughters, New York (2015, 2016) and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2016). He has been included in group exhibitions at Various Small Fires (2017), JTT Gallery, New York (2017), Callicoon Fine Arts, New York (2017) and Carl Kostyál, Stockholm (2017). He will be included in an exhibition of contemporary painting at MASS MoCA in March 2018.
Lena Henke (b. 1982, Warburg, Germany; lives and works in New York) has had recent solo shows at the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2017), Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2016), and S.A.L.T.S., Basel, Switzerland (2016). Henke’s work has been included in group shows at the Socrates Sculpture Park, New York (2015); Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (2014); and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (2013). She has participated in numerous group exhibitions including “Made in Germany” at Sprengelmuseum Hannover (2017), The 9th Berlin Biennale (2016), and the New Museum Triennial (2015). Her work is concurrently the subject of a solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Zürich.
Erin Jane Nelson (b. 1989, Neenah, WI; lives and works in Atlanta, GA) has had solo shows at Document Gallery, Chicago (2015, 2017) and Hester, New York (2015) and was included in ATLBNL: The Atlanta Biennial at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (2016) among numerous group exhibitions at Motel, Brooklyn (2018), Downs & Ross, New York (2017), Honor Fraser, Los Angeles (2016), Galerie Division, Montreal (2016), and Ellis King, Dublin (2015). She is also the co-director at Species, an artist-run gallery in Atlanta.