The simultaneous openings of Terra Incognita and Power House at the Institute of Contemporary Art was appropriate, since both exhibits deal with conflict. Terra Incognita, which was created by Philadelphia artist Charles Fahlen, explores the conflict between industry and nature, while Power House's Dorothy Cross portrays the power struggle between men and women. The sculpture "Colter's Hell" is the central piece in Terra Incognita. Five water fountains that sporadically spurt green water in the air are surrounded by concrete sculptures. Legless horses, scattered mateless boots, pigs with demonic expressions, bunnies that you wouldn't want to cuddle, and Santa Claus emerging from a trash can are only a few of the hundreds of small sculptures scattered randomly around the fountains. The exhibit, however unpleasant looking, is meant to be explored and experienced, Fahlen said. Showing a visiting sculpture class his work, Fahlen used his foot to rotate a concrete motorcycle helmet with a pylon sticking out of it. "I want you to walk through there," Fahlen said. "You can touch things." Fahlen explained that the objects were things that tourists throw in the woods, and that the fountains were representations of geysers. He said the display was inspired by a description he read of an area in Yellowstone National Park by John Colter written in 1807. Unlike the other pieces in the exhibit, Fahlen made Colter's Hell specifically for the ICA's Eleanor B. Lloyd gallery. He described the other works as "independent objects I do in my studio mostly for myself." These works sometimes cost him several thousand dollars to create. "All these works relate to the landscape," he said. "The monuments in here celebrate natural monuments I've seen out in the landscape." The conflict between the natural landscape and what technology has done to it is illustrated by Fahlen's metallic sculptures of nature. One sculpture, "Betatakin," resembles a metal volcano with a cloud hovering over it after it errupts. Dorothy Cross' Power House exhibit also uses industrial objects. They were found in the abandoned electrical plant which was her studio for the year and a half she spent creating the exhibit. Although each piece is unique, the sexual overtones and conflict in each piece bring the exhibit together. In each one male and female images struggle for domination. Associate Curator Melissa Feldman said she hopes visitors will learn something about relationships from the exhibit. "[It's] about breaking down the stereotypes," she said, after working closely on the project with Cross for the past year. Violence plays a role in these conflicts, and some the exhibits appear even sinister. "Slicer Beds" consists of two beds made of rusted metal and follow the body's curves. However, the metal is horizontal and a person laying on the bed would get "sliced." Both exhibits will be at the ICA until September 15.Comments powered by Disqus
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