10 September, 202123 October, 2021
After the summer of smoke and fire
Chelsea, New York
Luhring Augustine is pleased to announce After the summer of smoke and fire, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s fifth solo exhibition at the gallery, which will present three recent bodies of work. The internationally recognized artists, who have collaborated since 1995, are known for their immersive multimedia works that create transcendent multisensory experiences which draw the viewer into often unsettling narratives.
In the entrance gallery, the artists present a new group of collaborative works: small oil paintings are encased in wooden frames with two small speakers and a button. The canvases, painted by Cardiff, depict scenes of rural landscapes. When the button is pressed, music, sound effects, or voices emanate, animating the compositions; pressed again, a different track plays, offering diverging perceptions of the picture’s mise en scène.
The Instrument of Troubled Dreams (2018) is an interactive installation comprised of a 1960s Mellotron keyboard and twenty-three speakers. Visitors are invited to play the instrument, whose seventy-two keys have each been programmed to play back sounds, music, and vocal tracks: a raven flies through the space, soldiers search a small apartment, a carnival floats past on a barge. Improvising on the keys, each participant arranges a distinct audio odyssey, composing unexpected and vivid soundtracks that evoke changing narratives.
In the back room of the gallery, visitors enter a fully immersive installation, Escape Room (2021). The dimly lit room appears to be Cardiff and Miller’s studio, full of worktables scattered with the artists’ projects, tools, and materials. Elaborate dioramas built by the artists are found throughout the space: a model of a cathedral, an apartment building, a factory, a waterfront. Each portrays a mini-dystopia, civilizations that have been eerily abandoned by their inhabitants, leaving traces of something gone wrong, a forced exodus. Sound effects, music, and fragments of narratives are emitted in response to the viewer’s movements, immersing the viewer within the surroundings. At other moments, the illusion is dismantled, allowing the viewer to become keenly aware of the constructed environment and their own voyeurism within it.