May 19, 2022
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Jun 30, 2022

Jessica Mitrani: I Dreamt the Landscape Was Looking at Me

Jessica Mitrani

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La Mama Galleria presents “I Dreamt the Landscape Was Looking at Me,” an exhibition of work by Colombian-born artist Jessica Mitrani. Across a range of media, Mitrani’s signature visual language is immediately recognizable: an oneiric digital collage of original and appropriated imagery, featuring new animation by her frequent collaborator Alex Czetwertynski.

The central work in the exhibition, the three-channel video installation I Dreamt the Landscape Was Looking at Me, 2021, premiered at the Bogota Museum of Modern Art - MAMBO. In this trilogy of short videos—Landscape, Nature, and Territory—Mitrani reflects on human alienation from the environment, a long-standing theme in feminist decolonial thought. Coloniality, the dark side of the Western Enlightenment, necessitated the construction of alterities that could be mastered, hence the opposition between civilization and nature, the taming of nature to become landscape, and the transformation of land into territory. Yet, as the title of the installation and exhibition suggests, this objectified terrain has the capacity to return our gaze and scramble our long-established categories.

In footage created during lockdown in the Bogotá suburb of Chia, Mitrani attempts to bridge the unbridgeable, make amends for the unforgivable, and communicate with the cosmos. In Landscape, she sits by a river, pulling out tight coils of her hair and pressing their fibers into the hood of a flower growing from the earth. In Nature, an attempt to communicate eye-to-eye with a serene iguana becomes an exercise in the dissolution of boundaries. In Territory, she sways before a quartet of horses, offering an apology on behalf of humankind. Intercut with these scenes are sequences in which slender palm trees creep across the beach, boulders breathe and expand, and unidentified chemicals diffuse and crystallize. The accompanying soundtrack, composed by Sol León, blends the artist’s voice, animal calls, instrumentation, and evocative abstract noises. The installation is completed by a line of soil that borders the floor, this prima materia [the alchemical ‘first matter]piled high to overlap the screens.

Five new large-scale prints on rice paper continue the themes and motifs of the video installation, combining images of plant life, the figure of a watching eye, and patterns drawn from Indigenous iconography and sixteenth-century alchemical texts. An outdoor mural at 66 East Fourth Street serves as an epigraph for the exhibition, with words that serve as a quiet entreaty: “May we walk softly on you."

Jessica Mitrani (b.1968, Bogotá) is a New York–based artist. Her work has been exhibited, performed, screened, and broadcast internationally, including at OCDChinatown,New York; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; White Columns, New York; Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York; French Institute Alliance Française, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá; Marfa Film Festival, Texas; Oaxaca Film Festival, Mexico; Oberhausen Film Festival, Germany; and ARTE1 television network, Brazil. In 2022, Mitrani will develop a new multimedia project as an invited guest artist at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, New Jersey.

About La MaMa Galleria: Founded in 1984, LaGalleria is a nonprofit gallery committed to nurturing experimentation in the visual arts. La Galleria encourages an active dialogue between new media, performance, the plastic and visual arts, curatorial projects, and educational initiatives. It serves theEast Village community by offering diverse programming to an inter-generational audience, and expanding the parameters of a traditional gallery space. As a non-profit, La Galleria is able to provide artists and curators with unique exhibition opportunities that are largely out of reach in a commercial gallery setting.

I Dreamt the Landscape Was Looking at Me is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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A logo with black and blue font for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC)
The show is produced under the following program(s):

La MaMa Galleria

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Founded in 1984, La Galleria is a nonprofit gallery committed to nurturing experimentation in the visual arts. La Galleria encourages an active dialogue between new media, performance, the plastic and visual arts, curatorial projects, and educational initiatives. It serves the East Village community by offering diverse programming to an inter-generational audience, and expanding the parameters of a traditional gallery space. As a non-profit, La Galleria is able to provide artists and curators with unique exhibition opportunities that are largely out of reach in a commercial gallery setting.

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