Robert and Shana ParkHarrison‘s exhibit, The Architect’s Brother, has been one of my favorite statements on our relationship with our technology and our planet since I first saw it in San Diego almost four years ago. This time around, I caught the display — including several pieces I hadn’t seen before — at The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science in Tallhassee, Florida.
The Architect’s Brother is a large set of large photographs depicting Robert ParkeHarrison as “Everyman,” a workaday antihero charged with cleaning up the damaged planet. With earthy, makeshift tools and ill-fitting clothes, Everyman cleans clouds, stitches the land back together, makes rain, changes the seasons, saves trees, and documents his progress (some of these could act as visual companions to Heidegger’s The Question Concerning Technology where there seems to be no distinction made between a bridge and a bomb). The photos are posed, processed, and printed huge.
There were more pieces on display this time around, and some of the newer ones (and new to me) are among my favorites. The Architect’s Brother is made up of several series of photographs, the earlier of which mainly concern themselves with the depletion of the planet’s resources. Pieces from “Exhausted Globe,” “Industrial Landscapes,” and “Earth Elegies,” completed in the late 1990s, are far less hopeful than the ParkeHarrisons’ newer works. The pictures from “Kingdom” and “Promisedland” document Everyman participating in a rebirth of the earth rather than just staving off its decay. Of particular note are “The Collector,” “Night Garden,” “Kingdom” (inset above), “Windwriting,” “Book of Life,”and what might be my new favorite, “Tree Stories” (shown below) [more images here]. They represent more of a tribute to the creative spirit of nature than a lament of the damages inflicted thereon. The presence of these pieces gives the exhibit a much more positive feel and gives the narrative a sense of closure.
The Architect’s Brother is on display at The Mary Brogan Museum in Tallahassee until February 3rd, 2008.
[“Tree Stories” by Robert and Shana ParkHarrison]