Marie Lorenz with the Henry Hudson Bridge in the background, in one of the boats she makes herself.
“The last bit of Earth unclaimed by any nation-state was eaten up in 1899. Ours is the first century without terra incognita, without a frontier…We are looking for spaces (geographic, social, cultural, imaginary) with potential to flower as autonomous zones” – Peter Lambourne Wilson
Opening in the project space at Fredric Snitzer gallery, Miami this Saturday will be an exhibition of works on paper by New York based artist Marie Lorenz. Adorning the walls of the playful, junky little trailer will be a number of rubbings taken from MDF carvings. Similar to the process of wood block printing, only in reverse, the images are inspired by things Lorenz has experienced whilst exploring city waterways.
Looking for an Autonomous Zone, 2002 / My own free way, 2006. In 2002, Lorenz studied with Alfredo Jaar at the Internationale Sommerakademie for Fine Arts in Salzburg, Austria. She made the boat on the left with the intention of rowing out to a small island in the Salzach River and plant a black flag there – as a symbol that the island was outside any nation – a ‘temporary autonomous zone’.
Using homemade boats and navigation to create an “uncertain space,” Marie Lorenz’s art advocates that uncertainty brings about a heightened awareness of place.
“When we feel unstable we see more, pay more attention to our balance, our speed and our surroundings.”
Her work then is not so much about breaking new ground but rather reacquainting with the capabilities of our own perceptions and directing them towards that which would otherwise go unnoticed – contained as we often are within xenophobic and claustrophobic modules and mind frames. Her vantage point, sea level, amplifies the alternative perspective that existing apart from and moving independently of the majority affords.
“From below street level, with the cars and the people gone, the city seems empty allowing for a new encounter with architecture and structures.”
Hells Gate, 2008. One of the drawings on exhibition at Fredric Snitzer.
The use of rubbings are a recent departure for Lorenz who typically documents her expeditions with photography. The carvings from which she will take the rubbings, primarily of scenes derived from New York, have been brought to Miami to be reworked. Having explored the waterways down here the artist will manipulate the images depicted in the carvings with selective rubbing to create new scenes and stories from her experiences in Miami.
“I am exploring the waterways around here and trying to tell the story, much in the same way as my blog tells the story of the trips I take in New York but through rubbings instead of photographs.”
I Am Half Sick of Shadows and Ishmael Rubbing. I am half sick of shadows is named after a line from the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem, The Lady of Shallot. That is what she says before she carves her name on her boat and floats down-river to her death. Lorenz’s uncle, Charley Hoenig once explained to her that Tennyson’s audience would have understood her curse to be that of the artist – resigned to see life only through a reflection.
Reminiscent of prints from Moby Dick books, the old-timey quality of her recent work (and the act of boating in general) is brought up to date by incongruous depictions of modern power plants or something that happened yesterday. A firm believer in dying art forms such as printmaking and boat building but by no means a wallower, Lorenz’s drawings do not hark to the past.
“I actually see waterways as a kind of window to the future, when I am out and I see run down ferry boats sinking in the mud its kind of a sign of things to come.”
An article about the Marry Murray written in the Times over a year ago said that the DEP was trying to remove the ship. But then we came around a bend in the creek, and there she was.
Her projects, instead of exemplifying with frustration the lack of virgin territory left in the world, deal with the production of refreshing perspectives. Oddly, despite being confined, in danger and out of ones natural depth there is peace and freedom to be had on the water – once the barriers of pessimism and conformity have been broken down it is pretty much, well, plain sailing.
“Sure you’re constantly getting these signals that something terrible could happen but at the same time its easy to put a boat in the water and row to Manhattan even though some people think it sounds impossible or dangerous, but its actually quite practical.”
Staten and Ellis Island / Manhattan
Much like her photo documentary the rubbings, records of moments or artifacts, serve as navigational journals. Working with graphite, conté crayon and chalk over-layered with oil pastel they are tempered by soulful, meditative almost nostalgic elements of discovery. Not so much in terms of actual space, but because the water in which she travels is in constant fluctuation it maintains itself as free space. Everything else by comparison seems so controlled, whilst the water, without constant depth or breadth, runs off the radar.
In striving to find outlets that adequately convey her passion for what she does, Lorenz continually experiments with new methods of presenting information, other ways of telling stories of the trips and other ways of helping people to share in her experiences.
Come and see Marie Lorenz at the Fredric Snitzer Project Space tomorrow (July 12th) from 7 – 10 pm.
For more information about this artist please visit: www.marielorenz.com
For more information about this gallery please visit: www.snitzer.com