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Disintegration and Sprawl

Gallery show explores urban ruins and the problem of the built environment

by James Thorne in Culture on 11 October 2011

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A new gallery collection at Christina Ray takes a look at the ruins of urban spaces in an age of sustainability and waste reduction. Artists Amze Emmons and Kevin Haas present imaginary landscapes as the potential for progressive living, juxtaposed against a background of deterioration. As Haas explains in the exhibition catalogue, "Now the building spree has changed gears, yet we will have to live with it for decades to come."

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Emmons' work colorfully portrays industrial settings with a vivacity that belies their dilapidation. His representations of refugee camps are serene and desolate, and reminds one of the fragility of community that plagues conflict zones. Emmons concentrates on themes of space and dislocation, citing a lifetime of movement and resettlement as inspiration.

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Haas draws hypothetical blueprints of the industrial space, showing the potential for creation while recognizing the inadequacy of our habitats. "I have been focusing on locations just off major interstates, and their seemingly infinite potential for sprawl," says Haas. "When confronted with places like these, I am aware of my own tenuous complicity with them, and the repetitive displacement they create through their ubiquity." Starkly contrasted with deserted locales, Haas' monochromatic cityscapes are at once enticing and foreboding.

Disintegration and Sprawl can be seen now though October 30 at the Christina Ray gallery in New York.

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