A new exhibition from the Minnesota Artists Exhibitions Program (MAEP) at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) explores how personal technology has altered humans’ relationship with nature. Showcasing the work of Minneapolis-based artist Alyssa Baguss, “You Were Never Here” examines nature as scenery, people’s persistent longing to be elsewhere, and the perception of place through mediated experience. Opening November 21, 2019, in Mia’s U.S. Bank Gallery, the exhibition features three new largescale works by Baguss. Related events include an artist talk on Thursday, January 16, 2020.
“Today, Americans attempt to mediate our outdoor experiences through photography, illustration, and social media. Our urban environments are manicured and paved, and our national parks more resemble tourist destinations than natural spaces with very real dangers,” said Nicole Soukup, assistant curator of contemporary art. “For ‘You Were Never Here,’ Baguss poetically illustrates how technology has redefined our relationship to the outdoors.”
For this series, Baguss creates both 2- and 3-dimensional works. The first installation, Headwaters, is a sheer, floor-to-ceiling curtain imprinted with a panoramic photo of the Mississippi River’s headwaters at Lake Itasca. Visitors can step inside the enclosed curtain for a 360-degree view of the outdoors. The experience mimics photo documentation used by real estate agents to create virtual online tours of domestic spaces for sale.
Two massive artworks in the next gallery serve as a theatrical backdrop, setting the stage for landscape as scenery in a digital world. Understory is based on a three-dimensional scan of the oak savannah forest at Silverwood Park in Saint Anthony, Minn. Using data from forestry LiDAR (Light Direction and Ranging), which captures the topography of vegetation with a laser-emitting camera, Baguss composes a wall drawing of the forest using stencils and drawing pigments.
Her third work, Curtain, is a hand-folded three-dimensional landscape made from photo wallpaper murals. It hangs vertically from above and drapes across the gallery floor. Employing a common style of map folding called the Miura fold, Baguss manufactures an experience of landscape using mountain and valley folds with domestic materials.
“You Were Never Here” is on view November 21, 2019, through March 1, 2020.
Alyssa Baguss’s work has been exhibited at Rochester Art Center, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Soo Visual Arts Center, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art. Awards include grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board (2015 and 2017) and the Jerome Foundation (2017/2018).
Generous support for MAEP is provided by the McKnight Foundation. Additional support provided by RBC Wealth Management.