Claremont, Calif. (January 10, 2020)—Pitzer College Art Galleries presents 5 Distillations (Salton Sea), an exhibition of new works by Los Angeles-based artist Hans Baumann.
Organized by Ciara Ennis, the Galleries’ director and curator,
5 Distillations (Salton Sea) examines the political frameworks and
biophysical processes that created—and now imperil—the largest body of water in
the State of California. Drawing from empirical observation, archival research
and the artist’s long-term collaboration with the Torres Martinez Desert
Cahuilla Indians, this project reflects upon the inevitable collapse of a vast
inland sea that has sustained the indigenous people of this region since time
At nearly 300 feet below sea level, the Salton Sea is
a terrain of perpetual accumulation. Its terminal confines are a microcosm of
our planetary future; it is a landscape of hybrid confusion in which
intense ecological dysfunction is counteracted by the stubborn vitality of the
biosphere. Here, rare birds nest among some of the last wetlands in the
American West, and surf, sand and wind pulverize abandoned household waste into
habitat. The sea’s hypersaline waters pulse with primitive life just as
its shores are covered in the remains of one hundred million fish it can no longer
sustain. This is not Nature as we conceive it, and so the Sea’s immense
capacity for life is problematized and cast as dysfunctional. Yet this
unbalanced ecosystem has value; it is not merely a domain
of crisis. 5 Distillations (Salton Sea) presents an
alternative narrative for this place: a continuum of material conditions with
no precise origin, no definitive end and a panoply of moral connotations.
The exhibition will run from January 25 – March 26, 2020.
In conjunction with 5 Distillations (Salton Sea), Pitzer
College Art Galleries will present the symposium Sovereignty Expanded:
Indigenous Geographies of the Contemporary American West. Panels
include “The Future of Tovaangar: Challenges to Expanded Sovereignty in Los
Angeles,” “Decolonizing the Geography of the American West” and “Narratives of
Sovereignty.” Presenters include Kade L. Twist, professor and head of the Art +
Social Practice emphasis at Otis; Lauren Bon of Metabolic Studio; Kathleen
Howe, emerita director of the Pomona College Museum of Art; Manuelito Wheeler, director
of the Navajo Nation Museum, Window Rock, Arizona; and Charles Sepulveda, assistant
professor at the University of Utah in the Department of Ethnic Studies.
Sovereignty Expanded will take place in Benson Auditorium
on the Pitzer College campus on February 28 – 29, 2020.
Hans Baumann is a Swiss-American artist and land art practitioner.
His work addresses emergent energy futures, ecological collapse and nonhuman
timescales, and he frequently collaborates with Native American communities in
the Desert Southwest.
Baumann holds degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Design
and Prifysgol Caerdydd. His projects and essays have been featured in a variety
of publications, including e-flux architecture and The
Invention of the American Desert (University of California Press). His
work has been supported by institutions such as the National Endowment for the
Arts, the Antipode Foundation for Radical Geography and the Center for Land Use