green belt @ Jargon Projects
A green belt is a buffer. It’s as inconspicuous as a highway median or as clear as an unobstructed horizon line. Traditionally, a green belt is an area of land that surrounds and restricts the unfettered expansion of urban development. However, this exhibition does not necessarily engage with the practical implementation or efficacy of these common (and sometimes contested) elements of city planning and land preservation. Instead, it explores the inherent tension that these areas represent between urban, suburban, and rural, and engages a theoretical space in which one can focus upon the potency and emotional forgiveness that a rural environment provides. The works in this show, their material components and histories, and the objects which they depict also function as symbols inherently bound to these artists’ existence within the natural environment. Some artists emphatically embrace their personal connection to various landscapes, while others explore issues of privacy, autonomy, and comfort, treating rurality as an escape from the overbearing surveillance of urbanity. In only representing human figures fragmentarily or not at all, these works call to mind the “leave no trace” ideology that is expected of visitors within a protected landscape. It is interesting to consider, then, that green belts themselves are essentially and paradoxically created through human intervention, whether by means of construction or destruction. All of these works similarly bear the inevitable traces of interaction between humans and nature. Many consider not only the emotions and behaviors that come with inhabiting or exploring a rural area, but also the complicated trajectories by which one arrives in these spaces. Gestures as innocuous as footsteps tamped into grass or wildflowers picked from the ground are presented along with physical symbols and acts of demarcation such as road-building and colonial surveying.