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True North by Rebecca Solnit
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True North

by Rebecca Solnit

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True North features the work of contemporary artists whose photographic or video-based work evokes the formal conventions of Northern Romantic landscape painting as well as its legacy in later nineteenth-century photography. Yet unlike their Romantic antecedents, the works in this exhibition are historically and politically self-reflexive and problematize the notion of a pure, unchangeable North. Rather than report a uniquely Northern essence or truth, this presentation is premised on the idea that our visions of the North are structured through our own varying positions. A fantastical place of fear, desire, refuge, conquest and decay, the North has played an increasingly important role in the work of contemporary artists interested in the socio-political issues of colonization and pollution, as well as aesthetic notions of the sublime. Accompanying a spring 2008 exhibition at Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, this catalogue includes entries on the featured artists: Stan Douglas, Olafur Eliasson, Elger Esser, Thomas Flechtner, Roni Horn, Armin Linke and Orit Raff. In the introduction, Jennifer Blessing, Curator of Photography at the Guggenheim Museum, sketches a theoretical framework for the exhibition, linking the recent focus on Northern locales to the qualities of the photographic medium itself. Rebecca Solnit's poetic essay gathers together personal recollections, reflections on literature and environmental and political concerns to explore various cultural fantasies and symbols associated with the North.
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