Denver, Color Photograph, 2007

Artcards Review’s previously featured artist Xaviera Simmons has a show opening today at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery. “Wilderness” is on view through May 28, 2011.

(from the Press Release) Observations on natural and urban environments as they relate to social, political, personal and art histories set the stage for Simmons’ photographs. Alluding to traditions of American landscape painting and depictions of the human presence within it, carefully chosen scenery is employed as a hybrid, multivalent character harboring complex immigrant and migrant histories, an agent affecting and affected by the figures that inhabit it. Sages and nomads pose and roam through archetypal locales as conduits for the “nebulous” and “nonlinear” narratives embedded in the ground, allowing entrance into, in the artist’s terms, “other characters, narratives, and geographies.”

Hand-lettered, locally found wooden scraps affixed directly to the gallery wall comprise a sculptural installation of materials chosen for their ubiquitous use in vernacular signage worldwide. Simple painted signposts are re-imagined in a tangled matrix of fragmented, visually compelling text gleaned from notes, conversation, news articles, myth, folklore, poetry and literature, forming a disjointed tableau imbued with collective and personal memory. A lyrical, obscure landscape emerges from the cacophonous accrual of language, leaving accumulated association, conjured atmosphere and the uncanny to form meaning and perception.

Established or potential identities and histories are revealed to be as unstable as they are embedded, questioning notions of idealism and the fallibility of truth and falsehood. Reflecting on the ways photographers collect and own images, and how people define and are marked by their environs, Simmons offers a deluge of details in place of narrative to construct familiar landscapes from disparate parts.