Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to present Brave New World, a three-person exhibition including works by Till Freiwald, Vibha Galhotra and Richard Mosse. Linked through their social consciousness, Brave New World brings together three artists who spark conversations on mass migration. As Donald J. Trump propagates a nationalist agenda aimed towards severely limiting movement through the United States border, we must question how we came to this juncture, and what a future will look like if society continues down this path.
Richard Mosse’s series The Castle, which was first shown at the gallery in 2017, charts the refugee crisis permeating across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Using a military-grade surveillance camera intended for border and combat surveillance, Mosse records these often ignored landscapes of human displacement. By capturing only thermal radiation from over 30 kilometers away, these removed depictions mirror the dehumanizing narratives that all too often pervade press coverage of such sights. Through deeper observation we find details that push through this degree of separation. Souda Camp, Chios Island, Greece, for example, which depicts adolescents swimming in the Aegean Sea, reminds us that the individuals living in these squalid conditions contain a far more complex humanity than a simple heat signature.
While Mosse focuses on the reality of the present, Till Freiwald’s large scale soft pastel drawings mine the past to better understand systems that lead to designating our neighbors as others. In Pauppenbauer, a meticulously rendered drawing that utilizes a source image from an old family album taken during the artist’s childhood in 1960’s Peru, children work to make dolls. Drawn to the image due to the palpable rigidity of the environment, Freiwald calls into question the long-term effects of an upbringing of this nature. Paired with Stadt 3, which portrays a Brazilian Favela in the 1970’s, Freiwald links the concept of historically upheld institutions to the recent election of Brazilian President Jair Bolsoaro, the far-right candidate who has promised to limit the number of accepted migrants into the country, loosen restrictions on police violence in these same favelas, and erode environmental protections in the Amazon.
As protectionist instincts spread across the globe, Vibha Galhotra’s works, which address the impact of globalization on topography and the environment, call into question what natural disasters and limited natural resources will challenge the current trend to preserve borders moving forward. Influenced by the Yamuna River, one of the most contaminated rivers in the world that flows through her resident city of Delhi, Galhotra began working on her series Life on Mars that focuses on recent exploration of our neighbor planet in search of viable sources of water. Comprised entirely of ghungroos, small metal bells worn on women’s bodies in traditional Indian dance, Galhotra reconstructs photographs pulled from NASA’s research that began in 2005. While this futuristic inquiry may yield results, it does cause one to question why more energy is not focused on preserving the resources we have.
By bringing together these three artists and their multiplicity of styles and media, Brave New World asks us to contemplate the relevance of our current moment. Although it is fraught with anxiety for our future, the inherent divisiveness has activated a wave of engagement, and a desire for individuals to weigh in on the conversations shaping our future.