The Sublime State: California, Water, Desperation
California has always had a certain pre-occupation with water. In fact, if you take films like Chinatown as archetypal, it’s more like an obsession. In the desert landscape of the Sunshine State, controlling water equals power and wealth. People bargain for it, beg for it, even kill for it. Because, inevitably, the term “controlled water” is an oxymoron. Here water feeds communities and offers salvation, there water wreaks havoc. Few resources serve as both natural remedies and natural disasters. Perhaps that explains, in part, our obsession.
A new show opening at the Armory Center for the Arts on Saturday, October 6, explores this duality in Facing the Sublime in Water, CA:
“Facing the Sublime in Water, CA offers metaphors – both explicit and implicit – for the timeless idea that constraints and desperation can provide constructive applications and outcomes – unexpected or not – in a variety of social, political, and personal contexts. “
The show originated as a response to another project, centered on the Salton Sea, called Water, Ca. Created by Nicole Antebi and Enid Baxter Blader and gathered into a website, Water, CA collects and disseminates documentation and data related to the use of water in art, historically and at present. Facing the Sublime in Water, CA will ultimately be absorbed into the Water, CA website–a circular process that is an intentional nod to water’s fluidity.
Artists featured in Facing the Sublime include: Whitney Bedford, Roi Clarkson Colman, Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Emilie Halpern, Luis G. Hernandez, D’nell Larson, Charles Long, Mineo Mizuno, Katie Shapiro, and Ger van Elk. The show is curated by Irene Tsatsos.